E. Lee Waddell. Murder at Drake’s
Anchorage (1949) 224 pp.
A scandal is brewing at Drake’s Anchorage, a posh private school for
boys situated on the Marin County coast between Stinson Beach and Olema.
The headmaster, Alrik Lind, has been accused of improper behavior by some
of the boys and a group of parents is demanding answers. Lind abruptly
leaves the school at the beginning of the spring term, casting the school
and faculty into disarray. The school’s long-time secretary, Miss Breckenridge,
is then fired for listening at keyholes. When her body is later discovered
in the woods not far from campus, the investigation graduates from impropriety
to murder. This novel contains a somewhat confusing narrative, with a varied
cast of characters who start to blend into one another (inexplicably, many
of them have Scandinavian names, leading to even further confusion). However,
the Marin headlands are vividly described. The novel also contains an amusing
reference to the fabled Drake’s Plate of Brass (now housed at The Bancroft
Library), which was recently proven to have been an elaborate hoax perpetrated
members of E Clampus Vitus (the “Clampers”), a fraternity of California
history enthusiasts who were fond of practical jokes.