From the Paperback edition.
About the Author
As Carolyn G. Heilbrun, she is the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities Emerita at Columbia University. She has served as president of the Modern Language Association as well as vice president of the Authors Guild. Dr. Heilbrun is also the author of Writing a Woman's Life, Hamlet's Mother and Other Women, The Education of a Woman: The Life of Gloria Steinem, and, most recently, The Last Gift of Time: Life Beyond Sixty.
From the Paperback edition.
Read an Excerpt
"I didn't say I objected to Freud," Kate said. "I said I objected to what
Joyce called Freudful errors-all those nonsensical conclusions leaped to
by people with no reticence and less mind."
"If you are going to hold psychiatry responsible for sadistic parlor
games, I see no point in continuing the
discussion," Emanuel answered. But they would continue
the discussion nonetheless; it had gone on for years, and showed no signs
of exhausting itself.
"By the way," Kate said, "I've sent you a patient. At any rate, a student
asked me to recommend a psychoanalyst, and I gave her your name and
address. I have no idea if she'll call, but I rather expect she will. Her
name is Janet Harrison." Kate walked to the window and looked out on the
raw and blustery weather. It was the sort of January day when even she,
who loathed spring, longed for it.
"Considering your opinion of psychiatry," Nicola said, "Emanuel should
feel duly honored. Look honored, Emanuel!" Nicola, Emanuel's wife,
followed these discussions rather as the spectator at a tennis match
follows the ball, her head turning from one to the other. Having managed
to place her faith in psychiatry without withdrawing her right to
criticize, she applauded the good shots and groaned at the misses. Kate
and Emanuel, charmed with Nicola as audience, enjoyed the matches not only
for the occasional insights which emerged from them, but also because they
shared the knack of irritating without ever offending each other. Nicola
smiled on them both.
"It isn't Freud himself one quarrels with," Kate said, "nor even the great
body of theory he evolved. It's the dissemination of his ideas in the
modern world. I'm always reminded of the story of the Japanese gentleman
and the Trinity: 'Honorable Father, very good; Honorable Son, very good;
but Honorable Bird I do not understand at all.' "
"Your quotations," Emanuel said, "always enliven the conversation without
in any way advancing the discussion."
"The only quotation I can think of," said Nicola, in her turn walking to
the window, "is 'If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?' "
Which, as it turned out, was the most significant remark anybody made that
Someone had chalked "April is the cruelest month" on the steps of Baldwin
Hall. Kate, unimpressed by the erudition, agreed with the sentiment.
Spring on an Ameri-
can campus, even as urban a campus as this one, inevitably drove the
faculty into a mood compounded of lassitude, irritation, and
fastidiousness. Perhaps, Kate thought, it is because we are getting old,
while the students, like Caesar's crowds on the Appian Way, are always the
same age. Gazing at the students who sprawled, or made love, on every
available patch of grass, Kate longed, as she did each spring, for a
statelier, less untidy era. "The young in one another's arms," Yeats had
She mentioned this to Professor Anderson, who had stopped too, pondering
the chalk inscription. "This time of year," he said, "I always want to
shut myself up in a dark room, with the curtains drawn, and play Bach.
Really, you know," he said, still regarding Eliot's line, "Millay put it
better: 'To what purpose, April, do you return again?' "
Kate was startled
by Professor Anderson, who was an eighteenth-century man with a strong
distaste for all female writers since Jane Austen. Together they entered
the building and mounted the stairs to the English department on the next
floor. That was it, really. However expected, April was always startling.
On the bench outside Kate's office, waiting for her office hours, sat a
line of students. This too was a spring symptom. The good students either
vanished from the campus altogether, or appeared at odd moments to argue
some abstruse point of interpretation. The mediocre, particularly the poor
ones, began to worry about marks. April, stirring their dull senses,
reminded them that the time of marks was near and the B they had
faithfully promised themselves dismally remote. They had come to talk it
out. Kate sighed as she unlocked the door to her office, and then stopped,
in surprise and annoyance. A man standing at the window turned as she
"Please come in, Miss Fansler. Perhaps I should say Doctor, or Professor;
I am Acting Captain Stern, Detective from the Police Department. I've
shown my credentials to the secretary in the office, who suggested that I
had perhaps better wait in here. She was kind enough to let me in. I
haven't disturbed anything. Won't you sit down?"
"I assure you, Captain," Kate said, sitting down at her desk, "I know very
little about the personal lives of my students. Has one of them got into
trouble?" She regarded the detective with interest. An avid reader of
detective stories, she had always suspected that in real life detectives
were desperately ordinary men, the sort who coped well with short-answer
exams (corrected by machine) but were annoyed by complex ideas, literary
or otherwise; the sort who liked the hardness of facts and found the need
for ambivalence distasteful.
"Would you be good enough to tell me, Miss Fansler, what you were doing
yesterday morning until noon?"
"What I was doing? Really, Captain Stern, I do assure you that . . ."
"If you will just be good enough to answer my questions, Miss Fansler, I
will explain the reasons for them very shortly. Yesterday morning?"
Kate stared at him, and then shrugged. As is the unfortunate habit of the
literary person, she already imagined herself retelling this extraordinary
event. She caught the detective's eye, and reached for a cigarette. He lit
it for her, waiting patiently. "I don't teach on Tuesdays," she said. "I
am writing a book, and I spent all yesterday morning in the stacks of the
library, looking up articles in nineteenth-
century periodicals. I was there until a little before one, when I went to
wash, and then to meet Professor Popper for lunch. We ate in the faculty
"Do you live alone, Miss Fansler?"
"What time did you arrive in the 'stacks'?"
"The stacks, Captain Stern, are the inner floors of the library, on which
the books are kept." Why is it, she wondered, that women are always
annoyed at being asked if they live alone? "I got to the library at about
"Did anyone see you in the stacks?"
"Anyone who could give me an 'alibi'? No. I found the volumes I wanted,
and worked with them at the small tables along the wall provided for that
purpose. Several people must have seen me there, but whether they
recognized me, or remembered me, I couldn't say."
"Do you have a student named Janet Harrison?"
In books, Kate thought, detectives were always enthusiastically interested
in their work, rather like knights on
a quest. It had never really occurred to her before with what fervor they
attacked their work. Some of the time, of course, they were related to, or
in love with, the accused or murdered, but whether being a detective was
their job or avocation, they seemed vehemently to care. She wondered what,
if anything, Acting Captain Stern cared about. Could she ask him if he
lived alone? Certainly not. "Janet Harrison? She used to be a student of
mine; that is, she took one of my classes, on the nineteenth-century
novel. That was last semester; I haven't seen her since." Kate thought
longingly of Lord Peter Wimsey; at this point, surely, he would have
paused to discuss the nineteenth-century novel. Captain Stern seemed never
to have heard of it.
"Did you recommend that she attend a psychoanalyst?"
"Good God," Kate said, "is that what this has to do with? Surely the
police are not checking up on all people who attend analysts. I didn't
'recommend' that she attend an analyst; I would consider it improper to do
any such thing. She came to me having already decided, or been advised, to
go to an analyst. She asked me if I could recommend a good one, since she
had heard of the importance of finding a properly qualified man. Now that
you mention it, I don't quite know why she came to me; I suppose we
are all too willing to assume that others recognize us as monuments of
good sense and natural authorities on most things."
There was no answering smile from Captain Stern. "Did you in fact
recommend a psychoanalyst?"
"Yes, in fact, I did!"
"What was the name of the analyst you recommended?"
Kate was suddenly angry. Glancing out of the window, where April was
breeding desire all over the place, did nothing to improve her mood. She
averted her eyes from the campus and looked at the detective, who appeared
unmoved by April. Undoubtedly he found all months equally cruel. Whatever
this was about-and her curiosity had been greatly diluted by annoyance-was
there any purpose in dragging Emanuel into it? "Captain Stern," she asked,
"am I required to answer that question? I'm not at all certain of the
legal rights in this matter, but wouldn't I be 'booked,' or told what this
is all about, if I'm to answer questions? Would it suffice for now if I
were to assure you (though I cannot prove it) that yesterday morning until
one o'clock I was involved in no way whatever with any human being other
than Thomas Carlyle, whose death well over half a century ago precludes
the possibility of my having been in any way involved in it?"
Captain Stern ignored this. "You say you did recommend a psychoanalyst to
Janet Harrison. Did she find him satisfactory; did she plan to continue
with him for very long?"
"I don't know," Kate said, feeling somewhat ashamed
of her outburst into sarcasm, "I don't even know if she went to him. I
gave her his name, address, and telephone number. I mentioned the matter
to him. From that moment to this I haven't seen the girl, nor given her a
"Surely the analyst would have mentioned the matter to you, if he had
taken her as a patient. Particularly," Captain Stern added, revealing for
the first time a certain store of knowledge, "if he were a good friend."
Kate stared at him. At least, she thought, we are not playing twenty
questions. "I can't make you believe it, of course, but he did not mention
it, nor would a first-rate analyst do so, particularly if I had not asked
him. The man in question is a member of the New York Psychoanalytic
Institute, and it is against their principles ever to discuss
a patient. This may seem strange; nonetheless, it is the simple truth."
"What sort of girl was Janet Harrison?"
Kate leaned back in the chair, trying to gauge the man's intelligence. She
had learned as a college teacher that if one simplified what one wished to
say, one falsified it. It was possible only to say what one meant, as
clearly as possible. What could this Janet Harrison have done? Were they
trying to establish her instability? Really, this laconic policeman was
From the Paperback edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When a student asks English professor Kate Fansler to recommend a psychoanalyst, Kate naturally gives the student the name of her good friend, Dr. Emanuel Bauer. Weeks later, student Janet Harrison is found dead in Dr. Bauer's office, having been stabbed while she sat on her analyst's couch. Knowing Emanuel as she does, Kate is certain that he could not have committed the crime. As it is apparent that the police are not looking any further for a suspect, Kate takes it upon herself to investigate her student's death and find the real culprit.The book started out slowly for me, but I began to connect with Kate about halfway through the book. Cross gently pokes fun at both psychoanalysis (all the rage when the book was first published in 1964) and academia, not in a cruel way, but almost lovingly, like one family member would tease another. I found the solution to the mystery to be far-fetched, but since I enjoyed the characters so much, I plan to keep reading this series.
It took me over forty years from its publication to read one of Amanda Cross¿ Kate Fansler mysteries, and I¿m sorry I waited. I enjoyed the erudite conversation, a little pompous at times, but then I like Dorothy Sayers too. It¿s a period piece now, with Sixties conventions and prejudices, but that really isn¿t a negative or a positive. What matters is the puzzle and its solution, and while I can¿t say that this is a masterpiece of plotting, the details of the ¿perp¿ and the motive are sufficiently obscure until the end that it¿s fun. In retrospect, the motive is fanciful, or at least highly unlikely, but it was a good, quick read.