Stuart Palmer Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Stuart Palmer’s fourteen novels and three short-story collections featuring Hildegarde Withers are most notable for forging, in a period dominated in America by male detectives, a woman who can hold her own in a male world. Palmer also created, with quick sketches and convincing settings, an ability that complemented one of his most intriguing techniques: opening novels with a scene that sets a mood but that is often only tangentially related to the ensuing mystery. This technique is responsible for establishing some of the humor in the novels, and it is for his dryly witty style, embodied in Miss Withers, that Palmer is best known. He created an enduringly popular character, the subject of six motion pictures and one made-for-television film.

Stuart Palmer Bibliography

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Brean, Herbert, ed. The Mystery Writer’s Handbook. New York: Harper, 1956. Guide to writing mysteries with examples of writers, including Palmer.

Kaye, Marvin, ed. The Game Is Afoot: Parodies, Pastiches, and Ponderings of Sherlock Holmes. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995. A collection of works about Sherlock Holmes or that use him as a character. Includes Palmer’s story “The Adventure of the Marked Man” and a brief introductory biography of him.

Pringle, David. Imaginary People: A Who’s Who of Modern Fictional Characters from the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day. Brookfield, Vt.: Ashgate, 1996. Contains an entry on Hildegard Withers, Palmer’s most famous character.

Queen, Ellery. Introduction to The Monkey Murder and Other Hildegarde Withers Stories. New York: L. E. Spivak, 1950. Essay devoted to Palmer’s most famous character and her place in the annals of detective fiction.

Rice, Grantland. Introduction to Sporting Blood: The Great Sports Detective Stories, edited by Ellery Queen. Boston: Little, Brown, 1942. Includes discussion of Palmer’s contribution to sports detective fiction.