The Hayloft is a 1950s mystery featuring bobby sox, slow dancing, the communist conspiracy, bomb shelters—and murder. Within two weeks after starting his senior year of high school, Gary Blanchard finds himself kicked out of one school and attending another—the school where his cousin, Ralph, mysteriously died six months before. Ralph’s death was labeled an accident, but when Gary talks to people about it, he gets suspicious.

Did Ralph fall from the auditorium balcony, or was he pushed? Had he found a diamond necklace, talked about by cousins recently arrived from England that was supposedly stolen from Dutch royalty by a common ancestor and lost for generations? What about the principal with an abnormal liking for boys? And are Ralph’s ex-girlfriends telling everything they know?

Gary has a talent that helps him “get in good” with a couple of the key girls in his new school’s social/political machine, the powerful Sylvia and the beautiful Natalie. This comes in handy for his quest to find out how Ralph really died. And Ed, his more distant cousin from England who also attends the school, seems to know a lot about Ralph and the lost necklace. It doesn’t hurt that Ed has a pretty younger sister named Kate—or does it?

Things go awry when the father of one of the students is questioned about his ties to communist organizations. The fallout from this upsets the balance of power within the school and could even get Gary thrown out of his second school within a few weeks. Key scenes take place in the hayloft of the barn on the farm where Gary is staying with his aunt and uncle—Ralph’s parents. What happens in that hayloft will affect Gary for the rest of his life—if he survives.
Read A Review:

Gary Blanchard has been kicked out of school after the first two weeks of his senior year. His parents send him to live with his aunt and uncle and attend their local high school. This is the school where his cousin Ralph mysteriously died six months before. It was labeled an accident, but as Gary gets to know the students and discusses it, he begins to wonder.

Could Ralph have found the diamond necklace his new cousin Ed has been talking about? Ed and his family have come from England recently. The necklace was supposedly stolen from Dutch royalty by an ancestor and then lost for many generations. Gary had never heard of the necklace before.

Gary is able to assist Sylvia and Natalie and thus meets many students and gets a lot of information. But could his association with Sylvia cause problems and get him kicked out of yet another school?

This is a great novel set in the 1950s. The author has really captured the time period. I liked the characters and found myself fully engrossed in the story. There are plenty of twists and turns in the plot to keep you guessing. I highly recommend this book.

Dawn Dowdle