This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.
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SUMMER OF THE SECRET SQUADRON
by Michael Pledger Ball
New Journey Publishing of Arkansas
A book review by Stephen A. Kallis, Jr.
(From Radio Recall, December 2005)
Imagine one of 2004’s grade-schoolers discovering a cache with old radio premiums in it, and what transpires. The idea behind this novel is that a ten-year-old boy, Benjamin Matthews, discovers a 1941 Code-O-Graph cryptological premium from the Captain Midnight program. Along with the “decoder,” a series of encrypted messages.
The boy and his family had moved into an old house in an Arkansas town, and Benjamin finds the messages in a jar, concealed in a hidden compartment that he stumbles upon. Shortly thereafter, he discovers the “decoder,” and figures out how to decipher at least some of the messages.
Benjamin and his two close friends, Sumner and Logan, get caught up in the mystery, discovering that there are treasure-troves of other things from the person who wrote the messages. They decide to retrieve these hidden items, and therein lies much of the story.
Scattered throughout the book are illustrations, including several of Captain Midnight premiums. Some graphics are of the town and its landmarks.
Along with the puzzle of where the items are hidden, another mystery develops. The person who originally wrote the cipher messages appears to have been a boy named Henry, and the boys try to find out what happened to him.
To pick nits, the author appears to have picked up only a little bit about the details of the Captain Midnight program and its premiums. Thus, there are some inaccuracies and anachronisms in the book, but unless the reader is a specialist in radio premiums and/or the Captain Midnight radio program, these should not matter.
All in all, a fun, light read.