Four high-spirited undergrads investigate the death of their school’s bursar.
When Sally Watson, Daphne Loveridge, Gwyneth Pane, and Nina Harson gather on the roof of Persephone College’s boathouse to form the Lode League for the express purpose of cursing their bursar for blighting their life with petty economies, the last thing they expect is for her to be plucked immediately from their midst. But as they recite the poems and prepare to exchange the rings that constitute their initiation rite, a canoe carrying the bursar’s body floats down the Cherwell below them. After pulling the late Myra Denning from the boat and notifying Miss Cordrell, their principal, they retire to Daphne’s room to toast crumpets and discuss a new purpose for their group: to unmask the bursar’s killer. Scorning the efforts of Inspector Wythe of the local police, they interview Draga Czernak, the excitable Yugoslavian student who was probably the last to see the victim alive, and tromp across the grounds of Ferry House, a nearby estate owned by misogynistic Ezekiel Lond and coveted by the bursar and the principal for possible expansion. Characteristically, the girls show almost no interest in asking who might have wanted to kill Myra Denning, referring to her exclusively by her title and never by name. Like so much else in their lives, the bursar’s death gives the girls the chance for a lark and an opportunity to show the world how clever they are.
Light on puzzle and detection, this reprint of Hay’s 1935 tale is probably of greatest interest as a historical totem.