On vacation in California, Miss Withersdiscovers that a twenty-minute plane ride is long enough for murder
Because of the fog, the man in the brown suit arrives five minutes late for the ferry to Catalina Island. If he wishes to reach his destination today, his only option is the Dragonfly, a twelve-seat prop plane that makes up in speed what it lacks in comfort. The ride is bumpy, and all of the passengers—including a honeymooning couple, a film producer, and a would-be adventuress—find themselves feeling queasy. But none react as badly as the man in the brown suit, who sweats, shakes, and screams, “I’m dying! I don’t want to die!”—and by the time they reach Catalina, he already has. Vacationing schoolmarm Hildegarde Withers notices the corpse when they’re taking it off the plane. An amateur sleuth with a nose for murder, it doesn’t take her long to deduce foul play. But which of the passengers was dastardly enough to commit murder in mid-air? The Puzzle of the Pepper Tree is part of the Hildegarde Withers Mysteries series, which also includes The Penguin Pool Murder and Murder on the Blackboard.
“One of the world’s shrewdest and most amusing detectives.” —The New York Times “[Withers is] of the first and still one of the best.” —Anthony Boucher “Full of fun and delightful people. A really terrific plot.” —The Chicago Daily News, on Four Lost Ladies
Stuart Palmer (1905–1968) was an American author of mysteries. Born in Baraboo, Wisconsin, Palmer worked a number of odd jobs—including apple picking, journalism, and copywriting—before publishing his first novel, the crime drama Ace of Jades, in 1931. It was with his second novel, however, that he established his writing career: The Penguin Pool Murder introduced Hildegarde Withers, a schoolmarm who, on a field trip to the New York Aquarium, discovers a dead body in the pool. Withers was an immensely popular character, and went on to star in thirteen more novels, including Miss Withers Regrets (1947) and Nipped in the Bud (1951). A master of intricate plotting, Palmer found success writing for Hollywood, where several of his books, including The Penguin Pool Murder, were filmed by RKO Pictures Inc.