Have you met Hildegarde Withers? She's the "meddlesome old battleaxe" of a schoolteacher featured in more than a dozen books by Stuart Palmer, not to mention a number of short stories and some movies as well. She brings a teacher's eagle eye and sense of discipline to her avocation - solving crimes along with her friend, New York City police Inspector Oscar Piper.
The third of Palmer's books about Hildy, "Murder on the Blackboard," appeared in 1932. It's the subject of today's review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the full review by clicking here. In "Murder on the Blackboard," the murder takes place right in the room across the hall from Miss Withers' classroom. In fact, Hildy finds the body herself. And when she calls for help, and Inspector Piper arrives on the scene, he is promptly knocked out while searching the building, and he spends much of the remainder of the book in the hospital, while the real detective work is left to Miss Withers, aided (or hindered, depending on your point of view) by the Inspector's police colleagues.
The Hildegarde Withers mysteries generally had a light touch, and that's certainly the case in "Murder on the Blackboard," although both the murder and some of the events in its aftermath are pretty horrific. The murder method, which is revealed only at the end of the book, is pretty unusual as well. Not bad for an American "Golden Age" mystery, and ideal for readers of vintage mysteries. All in all, I think it's one of the better novels in the series.