The Clue of the Rusty Key
1942, the 11th book in the series.
This is without doubt the best Dana Girls book that I've yet read. We know the villain right from the start but knowing who it is and catching the character are two totally different things. The thug is one of the nastiest villains they have had.
Early on they enter a store and the thug comes in with his dog and is quite nasty. The dog upsets a stove that causes a fire which ends up burning down the entire building. The girls help the store owner and end up saving some important papers. They are followed by the thug who threatens to call the sheriff if they don't turn the papers over to him.
Lettie plays a larger-than-usual role in this story and is a major source of trouble for the girls. I cannot understand why she has not been expelled from the school and especially why she isn't expelled at the end of the story for what she does stealing from the Dana Girls, interfering with police work and even doing things that could place the lives of other in danger.
The girls find a rusty key and even that leads to major problems. The are attacked by the thug, trapped and, to top it off, they are basically poisoned by Lettie. It takes a lot of police work and a lot of work on the part of the Dana Girls before the thug can be brought to justice.
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