In the heat of a Central American summer, Miss Withersinvestigates murder on the Mexico Express
Oscar Piper doesn’t belong on Mexican trains. A New York City detective, he’s in the Dominican Republic as part of an international delegation come to cut the ribbon on a new transcontinental highway. This grants him the honor of a trip to Mexico City on the hottest, dustiest train in North America—a crowded slow coach that’s about to become a crime scene. The alderman’s wife does not know how the bottle of Elixir d’Amour got into her bag. She only knows that when the porter smelled it, he dropped dead. She seems to have been the intended target for the poisoned perfume—but who would want to kill a corrupt politician’s trophy wife? Oscar sends a wire to his friend Hildegarde Withers, a schoolteacher and amateur sleuth, whom he knows will not wilt in the Mexican heat. Before she begins her investigation, she has only one question: “¿Cómo se dice ‘murder’?” The Puzzle of the Blue Banderilla is part of the Hildegarde Withers Mysteries series, which also includes The Penguin Pool Murder and Murder on the Blackboard.
“The Puzzle of the Blue Banderilla is the best of the Hildegarde Withers stories, and that is saying a good deal.” —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.