I really enjoyed another book by this author – The Birthday Murder, 1945, blog entry here - and this one had all the same pull factors including fabulous clothes throughout. The Birthday Murder had an excellent setting in the Hollywood film world, while this one has an academic setting, always a favourite round here.
We’re following Kathryn Farr, who has taken a job as secretary to the Dean of the Medical Faculty, and finds that the opening has arisen because of the mysterious disappearance of her predecessor. The beautiful Garnet was very popular with the male students, and also seemed to have some burden from her earlier life, and some slightly strange views. Well there’s a setup isn’t it? You can settle in to enjoy this book, no problem.
There are nice details of the time – for instance an assumption that a young woman will ditch her friend if a date turns up, and that the friend will have no problem with that. Our heroine Kate allows the policeman into her roominghouse while ‘wearing a housecoat and several curlers’. If a male student got a girl pregnant, the Dean of the Faculty thinks it would be part of his role to insist they get married: ‘I’ve done that twice since I’ve been Dean here.’
Kate goes on a date, and then is very put out because her beau does not notice her ‘new black date dress and hat’ - that's my version above – but later he tells her it is not the right dress for her ‘It’s a wise dress, and you’re sweet. I liked that blue taffeta thing much better.’ I’m not sure I liked the sound of him (all crime-related plotlines aside).
The book has a very unusual and thought-provoking solution and is quite affecting – and there is an interesting response to it from the policeman. But of course I can’t discuss any of that...
My friend John over at Pretty Sinister Books reviewed this one a few years back in his usual insightful way.
Date dress and hat from Kristine’s photostream.