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Voice from the Cave by Mildred A. Wirt
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Voice from the Cave (1944)

by Mildred A. Wirt

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I have the first fourteen Penny Parker books and, with the exception of Signal in the Dark, this is my least favorite. In the first book Penny is described as a sophomore at Riverview High. In chapter 2 of this book she's said to be 15. As in the last book, there's no mention of either of her cars. What, did the publishers expect Penny's fans to forget she could drive?

Penny's slightly younger age is accompanied by less assured behavior. Her dealings with the widow whom she suspects is trying to make her widowed father husband #2 make her seem even younger.

This mystery is directly tied in with World War II. If this were the Penny of books 1-10, I'd enjoy it more. There's certainly more excitement at the climax than any mere crooks are likely to provide.

I was going to grumble about Mr. Parker's reluctance to go on a first camping trip with Penny, but I suppose a man who bought a four-room cabin for weekend fishing (see chapter 8 of The Secret Pact), might not care for roughing it in a tent.

The camping trip does not go well, particularly when a strange man robs their camp. There's rumor of an escaped prisoner of war in the area. Could he be their thief? (Perhaps it's because there's a war on, but after finding out how much of their food has been stolen and guessing the thief is hungry, Penny neither assumes that he's down on his luck or escaped from jail. She thinks he's 'Probably some shiftless person who isn't willing to work for a living.' Not exactly a charitable thought.)

Penny's vacation starts looking up when her chum, Louise, joins them. Jerry Livingston, who used to the ace reporter for Mr. Parker's newspaper, also shows up. Is he on leave or a mission? He shows up in chapter 9, a Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart decorating his uniform. The previous hints of future romance between Jerry and Penny are confirmed when they meet. I'm not sure how much older the handsome, dark-haired (according to chapter 10 of The Vanishing Houseboat), Army Air Force captain is than Penny, but I suspect that these days we would think he was a little old for a 15 year-old.

The Voice From the Cave broadcasts gibberish -- or is it code?

I liked the trick Penny and Louise pull in order to check out the elephant charm that Mrs. Deline always wears.
(I'm afraid the woman didn't share my amusement.)

The style of my copy's glossy frontispiece is similar to that of the one in my copy of Hoofbeats on the Turnpike. Neither is signed. Penny appears to have had a few inches cut from her hair, though. The scene the frontispiece depicts puzzled me a little because Penny didn't bring up the slogan of that period, as seen in this poster: http://history1900s.about.com/library/photos/blywwiip44.htm

I repeat, except for the change in Penny, it's a good mystery. ( )
  JalenV | Jun 11, 2012 |
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'MRS. WEEMS, what can be delaying Dad?'
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'Please don't repeat idle gossip,' Mrs. Weems requested. 'I'm sure Mrs. Deline is a very fine woman.'

'She's the slickest serpent who ever free-wheeled into Riverview!' Penny said heatedly. 'I saw her in action last week-end at the Country Club. Why, she simply went out of her way to cultivate any man who had an income of more than twenty-five thousand a year.' (chapter 1)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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