The Puzzle of the Happy Hooligan (#8)

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On vacation in Hollywood, Miss Withers gets a job

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.


“Hildegarde Withers once more on the hunt, 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. Entertaining, original.”

Kirkus, Starred Review

“Stuart Palmer’s books remain wonderfully readable, in no small part because they are quite genuinely funny, and Hildegarde Withers and Inspector Piper make a first-rate odd couple of detectives. I do recommend THE PUZZLE OF THE HAPPY HOOLIGAN as one of Palmer’s best.”

Classic Mysteries

“The puzzle aspect of this book is well achieved, with plenty of information for the readers to grapple with.”

Cross-Examining Crimes

“The writing and characters were up to [Palmer’s] usual standards and made for a fun, fast-pasted read.”

Moonlight detective

Awards & Accolades