Although the Stock Market had crashed recently, it was too early for most people to predict that the Great Depression was about to get underway. For 39-year-old spinster schoolteacher Hildegarde Withers, it’s business as usual. And part of her usual business is taking her class for an outing to the aquarium to see the penguins. Instead, she spots the floating corpse of Wall Street broker Gerald Lester and quickly realizes that Inspector Oscar Piper of NYPD Homicide isn’t up to solving this tricky case.
Thick flakes of snow are falling on Fifth Avenue at twilight - and then the body of a young man suddenly falls among them, mysteriously out of the sky. Momentarily the wheels of traffic are halted, but other wheels spin relentlessly on - the wheels of death, the wheels on which bloody murder moves silently through Manhattan’s streets. Once again Miss Hildegarde Withers, the schoolteacher-detective, matches her wits against an unknown X, armed only with the precious gift of common sense and a cotton umbrella.
"If you can get past the narrator......"
“I don’t want to die,” said the man in the brown suit, who was the last passenger to board the little airplane, but he did. The other passengers thought he was just airsick and the pilots of the Dragonfly assumed it was a heart attack, but when they landed on Catalina Island where Miss Hildegarde Withers was enjoying her first vacation in five years, they bowed to her insistence that the body be examined by the island doctor as well as the chief of police.
Crusty schoolteacher/sleuth Hildegarde Withers can't escape mysterious deaths, even on a trans-Atlantic crossing on an ocean liner. En route to England she spends part of her time (when not feeling queasy) sizing up her fellow passengers. Her intuition helps when passengers and crew start dropping over the side, or just dropping, period.
When pretty little Ina Kell arrived in Manhattan full of foolish dreams about making it big in show business, she had no idea how quickly she’d be in the headlines. But when TV personality Tony Fagan is murdered in the apartment building where she’s staying and she disappears shortly thereafter, the search is on, led by Inspector Oscar Piper and his long-time friend Hildegarde Withers.
Stuart Palmer’s story of a grisly joke played on some unloving and hopeful relatives gathered together for the holidays - and for their share of their wealthy uncle’s estate. When the black sheep of the family takes it upon himself to solve the mystery of the wealthy man’s death, a startling and exciting investigation leads him to baring one of the most unique crimes on record, in which crime itself was the motivation of an even more amazing murder.
When Inspector Oscar Piper asks his old friend Hildegarde Withers to stop meddling in murder, she surprisingly agrees. But old habits die hard and Hildy soon finds herself back in harness, investigating suspects and snooping for clues. Oddly enough, she spots a vital clue while looking at her own tank of tropical fish.
Hildegarde Withers, schoolteacher and amateur detective, stumbles onto the corpse of Jefferson Grammar School's attractive young music teacher. When Miss Withers goes for help, the body plays hooky, and when Homicide Inspector Oscar Piper starts to investigate, somebody tries to brain him with a shovel. The rest of the cops want to throw the book at the school janitor, who has flunked their pop quiz. But Miss Withers disagrees and decides to stay after school to ask her own questions.
Hildegarde Withers heads down Mexico way where the death in the afternoon involves neither a matador nor a bull. Inspector Oscar Piper is off on a junket to Mexico in the summer of 1937 (surrounded by a bunch of Democrats, huffed Miss Withers) when a customs inspector on a train headed for Mexico City sniffs a very potent bottle of cheap perfume and promptly drops dead. Quite naturally, Oscar telegraphs Hildegarde in Manhattan about the perfume and quite naturally Miss Withers packs her bags and heads south of the border, figuring Oscar is out of his depth if he has to rely on deductive reasoning rather than a rubber hose.
No use to scream. No use at all. One of the proudest boasts of the Hotel Grandee was that its thousand rooms were all completely soundproof. She could shriek until she was blue in the face, but nobody would hear her. Nobody but the man who blocked her way to the door, to the phone. Love-starved Harriet Bascom was dressed for the occasion…unmentionables trimmed with Chantilly lace; the sheerest of dark, flattering nylons; a daringly décolleté gown with a Paris label.... It was her armor.
Top model Violet Feverel should be a pretty picture riding the big red thoroughbred Siwash - but the front page photo on the tabloids is ugly as death. The police dub the tragedy an unfortunate accident. But Miss Hildegarde Withers, who stumbled across the girl's body on the Central Park bridle path, knows they are, unfortunately, wrong. Just plain horse sense tells her it was murder....
"Couldn't finish it."
A young man is stopped by the police, a body is found in his backseat, and he is convicted of murder. While he awaits execution, he makes out a will leaving all his money to the police lieutenant who handled his case. The lieutenant learns of this when Hildegarde Withers, schoolteacher and hard-boiled private eye, stops by. She determines to clear the man in the few days left before his execution. The opening paragraphs bear comparison with the opening of Chandler's short story "Red Wind".
Hildegarde Withers is on the hunt again, as a vacation in California lands her a movie job and two dealers to clear up. Her own death brings Inspector Piper to the scene, and her resurrection cuts through Hollywood red tape as she becomes a target for the killer.
"Great book - awful narration"
First published in 1931, this mob-based mystery story follows a young girl who takes a job as a dancer and falls in with a dangerous crowd. While at a party, she gets pinned for the murder of another girl and now must clear her name. This pulpy action/drama was one of Stuart Palmer's first efforts.
The Big Top in California is the background which Howie Rook, ex-newspaperman and collector of murder cases, takes on for protective coloring when he is tossed an impeccable suicide by the dead man's widow. Objectively observing, taking part in the clown acts, getting the walk around from two and four legged performers, he sweats it out to prove his verdict.
Howard Rook fancies himself to be the knight protecting dear Deirdre, an ex-movie hopeful who manages to look sweetly sensational on (or off) screen. Deirdre is in deep as prime suspect for the murder of her husband, a sado-masochistic man about town,
Miss Hildegarde Winters, accompanied by her poodle, Talleyrand, is ready, willing, and able when nasty valentines upset a cartoon studio. With one murder down and three to go, Miss Withers and New York's Inspector Piper delve into poison ivy and a fantasy land when snooping around a school.