by Clair Blank
What kind of a college is this Briarhurst anyway? Thereís no menís college across the lake (although it causes no comment when a visiting male announces his arrival from a ladder, at a window); no dorm fires (although thereís one in the stables); no basketball (although one of the heroines is seriously injured in a field hockey scrimmage, and a baseball game takes up an entire chapter); freshmen live in the sorority house (although they will have to move out if they are not elected at the end of the year); and someone is trying to murder the Dean.
ďHappiness HouseĒ is the Omega Chi house where two of our six heroines live. The Omega Chis are presented as hard-working, helpful, honorable, achieving students who for some reason elect nasty olí Marcia as their next president. Since itís the only sorority we hear about, we have no way of knowing whether they are the norm for Briarhurst. They certainly differ from most of the sororities Iíve run into in girlsí books.
Gale and Phyllis (the only two of the six who are actively involved in the plot) make some serious attempts at detection: they identify the typewriter that wrote the threatening note, and collect enough information to thwart the final murder attempt. But they do it in whatever free time they do not devote to pre-med studies, Freshman Frolics, and team sports. Theyíll never qualify as proper Girl Sleuths.
They spend far more energy trying to locate, contact, and reconcile a missing parent. Since he is eventually located in the rainforests of Brazil, you can see why it takes so much effort.
On the whole, itís far more believable than a lot of boarding school and girlís college books Iíve encountered. Iíll have to hunt up some more in the series.
© 1995 Jo Anne Fatherly
(This review first appeared in The Whispered Watchword, the newsletter of The Phantom Friends)