So you think you've had bad days?
Consider the plight of New York City police officer Francis X. Doody, directing traffic at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in 1931-era New York City. In rush hour. In a snowstorm. And an open roadster - with no driver - careens down the Avenue and crashes into a taxicab. Well, there was a driver in the roadster - but he apparently did a back flip out of the driver's seat a short way up the street and is now lying - very dead, with a rope tied around his neck - in the middle of the road. Murdered - but how? By whom?
No, not a good day for Officer Doody. Not much better for his boss, Inspector Oscar Piper. Luckily for Piper, his friend, that "meddlesome old battleaxe" Hildegarde Withers, is on hand to help him investigate this apparently impossible crime. And we're off and running, in "Murder on Wheels," by Stuart Palmer, a wonderful mystery (with plenty of comic overtones) from America's Golden Age of Detection. It's the subject of today's audio review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the full review by clicking here.
Written in 1932, "Murder on Wheels" was Palmer's second book featuring Hildy Withers, a schoolteacher who takes no nonsense from her students or from stubborn police inspectors. In fact, after agreeing to disagree over a number of points, Hildy and Piper agree to each investigate the crime independently to see which of them can solve it first. Any of my readers want to place any bets?
"Murder on Wheels" is a strong entry in the Hildy Withers series. With an impossible murder, interesting characters, a foul-mouthed parrot, and an entire rodeo - yes, a rodeo - there's plenty going on here. Good thing we all have Hildy to sort it out.