A newspaperman investigates the strange case of a murdered society clown
Howie Rook does not care for the police. After a long career in newspapers, he has seen too many cases loused up by unimaginative detectives to have any faith in by-the-book investigation. Recently retired, he spends his leisure hours writing letters to the editor regarding police stupidity. He’s so good at pointing out the department’s screw-ups that it has decided to reach out to him. They have an impossible crime, and it requires an amateur’s eye. Real estate magnate James McFarley is found dead in a locked room, a bullet in his chest, and clown make-up on his face. The police have no suspects, no witnesses, and no hope but Rook. The amateur’s skill is about to be put to the test. Will he find the killer, or will he end up looking sillier than a murdered clown? Unhappy Hooligan is part of the Howie Rook Mysteries series, which also includes Rook Takes Knight.
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.