(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.