Cornelia Meigs, a generation-long favorite, has written an engrossing if not flawless mystery, set authentically in the lovely New England countryside. On a family picnic in this area, the Graham children are increasingly captivated by a series of rhymed written clues that send them on a treasure hunt around the quaint deserted house, which sports a table set for a birthday party and real live treasure cached away in a well. In the hopes of tracking down the rightful heirs and of providing an author's paradise for Professor Graham, the family rents a neighboring house. Nina Graham soon befriends Kent Clark and the elusive young man promises to reveal the story of the birthday party. The meat of the mystery remains unsolved until the owners of the red house appear and both sides of the quarreling Clark family resolve the bitterness. The birthday party was to have been the occasion for distributing the gems, but since the inefficient caretaker never summoned the children, Kent and his cousins come into a small fortune. What is a clever mystery loses momentum beyond the half-way mark as intrigue dissolves in complicated explanations.