After a screenwriter is murdered on a film set, a street-smart school teacher searches for the killer
Hildegarde Withers is just your average school teacher — with above-average skills in the art of deduction. Based in New York City, she often finds herself investigating crimes led only by her own meddlesome curiosity, though her friends on the NYPD don’t mind when she solves their cases for them. After plans for a grand tour of Europe are interrupted by Germany’s invasion of Poland, Miss Withers heads to sunny Los Angeles instead, where her vacation finds her working as a technical advisor on the set of a film adaptation of the Lizzie Borden story. The producer has plans for an epic retelling of the historical killer’s patricidal spree, plans which are derailed when a screenwriter turns up dead. While the local authorities quickly deem his death accidental, Withers suspects that, alongside the fictionalized “forty whacks,” someone has dealt out a whack that is all too real, so she calls up a detective back home for advice. And when it becomes clear that there is something sinister at work out in Hollywood, he jumps on a plane, and the two team up to catch a wily killer.
At once a pleasantly complex locked room mystery and a hilarious look at the foibles of Hollywood, The Puzzle of the Happy Hooligan finds Palmer, a screenwriter himself, at his most perceptive. Reprinted for the first time in over thirty years, this riotously funny novel shows why Hildegarde Withers was among the most beloved detectives of Golden Age American mystery novel.
“The Puzzle of the Happy Hooligan is a book that will keep you laughing and guessing from the first page to the last.” —New York Times
“[Withers is] of the first and still one of the best women detectives.” —Anthony Boucher
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