In this book the author of Death at Dayton’s Folly and Murder on the Day of Judgment has done for the small-town high school what Dorothy Sayers did for Oxford’s woman’s college in Gaudy Night.
Once again the amiable and homespun Rocky Allan, aided and abetted by his red-haired wife Eleanor, is featured in this tale dealing with the stabbings of a local Don Juan and Circe. The trouble began at a charity dance given at the Merton High School gymnasium. During that time the many hatreds and antipathies which flowed beneath the apparently calm surface of the social life of the families of the high-school faculty were revealed.
And on the morning following the dance the town awoke to a shocking tragedy. A dual stabbing had occurred during the night, and in the mouth of the murdered high-school teacher was discovered an old coin dated 1565 and bearing the Latin inscription, “Whom God hath joined, let no man put asunder.” Rocky, with only this amazing modern example of Charon’s fare to guide him, undertook the investigation. He found, that a terrifically tangled web of enmities, violent emotions and cross-purposes involved the whole high-school faculty. He also learned of the three colored bibelot cats, at least two of which were associated with the murder. He further learned of a stolen kitchen knife, and was heard to remark, “Nothing happened. People did a lot of talking. About divorces, purses and the smell of onions.” But perhaps in the end he received his greatest assistance in solving the case from Mary of Scotland and Henry Darnley.
This is not only an engrossing mystery story, but Mrs. Rath has constructed a solid background which gives her book much of the quality of a straight novel. She has taken her own intimate knowledge of backstage life in a typical American high school and worked it into her story in a way to give an almost unique picture of this little-discussed phase of American social life.
Ferryman, Take Him Across! was published in 1936.
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