As small towns and cities across the United States lose their men to different branches of the services in 1942, Elderberry, Ga., has also misplaced a schoolteacher.
Why would Miss Dimple Kilpatrick, who’s taught first grade for four decades, suddenly leave town in the middle of the school year? Charlie Carr, once her pupil, now her colleague, is sure there’s something strange about Miss Dimple’s disappearance. She presses her college pal and fellow teacher Annie Gardner into service as a fellow sleuth. The school janitor was found dead in a storage closet before Miss Dimple vanished, but the police are saying little about either case and don’t seem much interested. Although Charlie’s distracted by the fact that her boyfriend Hugh is about to enter the medical corps, she still does her best to track down clues and follow up on suspicious characters, some brought to her attention by a pupil who sees spies behind every bush. Even a telegram announcing that Charlie’s brother is missing in action can’t keep her from searching for her revered fellow teacher. The clues she unearths may lead her to the truth, or into serious danger.
In a break from her Augusta Goodnight series (Hark! The Herald Angel Screamed, 2008, etc.), Ballard provides a nostalgic look at life in small-town America during the war.