THE FATEFUL SUMMER by Velda Johnston


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Another Johnston porch-glider mystery/romance set on 1910 Long Island--and narrated by now-aged Emma Hoffsteader, who, in an undoubtedly tottery present, remembers all. It all begins with the young Emma's friendship for lovely Amanda Dorrance--who makes sensible Emma (from a quiet family in Brooklyn) a welcome visitor at the Dorrances' handsome summer home. Head of the Dorrance clan is hearty John Dorrance, whose cool wife Clara doesn't share his devotion to adopted daughter Amanda. Clara dotes instead on her twins, timid Larry and pale Lucy. But family friends and servants--except, surprisingly, austere gardener Thorsen--adore pretty Amanda, as does nice Michael Terence Doyle, son of the owner of a chain of hotel bars. And Amanda returns his love. But, alas, Michael is--horrors!--Irish, and marriage is out of the question. So, while papa John is abroad that summer, Amanda hies to the family's N.Y.C. apartment: she and Michael have an affair. (Emma, good friend that she is, merely deplores.) John soon returns, however, and angrily gets tough: he drives Michael away by threatening to cause the senior Doyle's bankruptcy; he orders delicate son Larry to a military school; he breaks up the too-loving twins by shipping Lucy off to Boston. Meanwhile, too, Amanda has found her real mother, Rose Shannon, living in less than genteel poverty among empty liquor bottles. And guess who papa is? So, with all hands furious at him, John is, not surprisingly, murdered in the Long Island mansion. Michael disappears (one of his cuff-links is found at the scene of the crime); Amanda has a miscarriage; Emma finds the other cuff-link and does some amateur sleuthing, visiting the spooky Dorrance summer home offseason. And the murderer is discovered, though Emma nearly loses her own life. Vanilla-pudding suspense--pleasant and popular.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Dodd, Mead