On vacation in Hollywood, Miss Withers gets a job—and a case
Hildegarde Withers—schoolteacher and occasional detective—has just finished planning her grand European tour when Germany invades Poland. Not wishing to join the international conflict, she books a ticket to Hollywood, trading the Louvre and the Vatican for the Brown Derby and La Brea tar pits. She has only been in Los Angeles three days when she’s offered a job in pictures. Not as a starlet—Miss Withers is no ingénue—but as a technical adviser to a film version of the Lizzie Borden story. The job is perfect, for no one knows murder like Miss Withers. On her first day at Mammoth Studios, the screenwriter in the next office dies of an apparent broken neck. To understand why, Miss Withers must contend with a film producer who makes her third graders look like grown-ups—and a killer every bit as vicious as Lizzie Borden herself. The Puzzle of the Happy Hooligan is part of the Hildegarde Withers Mysteries series, which also includes The Penguin Pool Murder and Murder on the Blackboard.
“The Puzzle of the Happy Hooligan is a book that will keep you laughing and guessing from the first page to the last.” —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.