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The Penguin Pool Murder (Hildegarde Withers #1)

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  76 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Spinster sleuth and school teacher, Hildegarde Withers, meets up with Inspector Oscar Piper at a murder at a New York City aquarium in this first book in the popular series. First published in 1931.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published December 1st 2007 by Rue Morgue Press (first published 1931)
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Ivonne Rovira
Mar 24, 2013 Ivonne Rovira rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of classic mysteries
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a teacher myself; therefore, I am admittedly inclined to love the no-nonsense Miss Hildegarde Withers, a third-grade teacher at Jefferson School in New York City just months after the 1929 Stock Market Crash. However, you don't have to be a schoolteacher to fall in love with Miss Withers!

The novel begins with Miss Withers and her overly enthusiastic charges on a field trip at the New York Aquarium. While there, Miss Withers -- unflappable, clever, acerbic
...more
Lisa Kucharski
Written in 1938, the murder mystery is solved by a grade school teacher and police inspector. There are so many rules broken that allow people to tamper with evidence, that it makes it difficult to read for the mind in 2011. You can't help reading it and thinking, you can't allow that Inspector!

The writing seems to play to the heart as much as to someone hoping to read a mystery story. I would say this falls under the category-- Romantic/Mystery writing typical of the 20's through 40's.

Jane
I don't usually pick the murderer out of the gate, but I did in this one. Not a bad one, but SP is clearly still hitting his stride with Ms. Withers & co - it's not as smart or atmospheric as the Red Stallion. I'll definitely keep going in the series, though!
Susan
Miss Withers has taken her third graders to the New York aquarium in Battery Park when they find a body in with the very disturbed penguins. Inspector Oscar Piper's steno is in the hospital, so he's glad when Hildegarde offers to take notes, and is soon impressed by her help. There were many people who had motives to kill the dead man, including his wife and her old boyfriend, in addition to the aquarium director, who'd lost money in the recent stock market crash. Incredible period details, plus ...more
Carol
I got the book because I liked the b-grade movie made from the book (It stars Edna May Oliver as Hildegarde Withers -- speaking of movies, in Murder by Death, the Agatha Christie character wheels in her nanny & that nanny is based on Hildegarde). The book is not well written. I am not sure exactly what's off about it, but it's ham-fistedly written. The story is fine & the characters translated better to the screen than you'd guess from the book. I wish it were better & I wish Edna Ma ...more
Mary Ronan Drew
Hildegarde Withers is a third-grade teacher at Manhattan's Jefferson Elementary School. Miss Withers' class is on a field trip to the New York Aquarium, which, by the way, is the oldest continuously operating aquarium in the US. It was in Manhattan in the 1930s when Miss Withers' class visited; it is now in Coney Island.

Miss Withers uses her umbrella to trip up a fleeing pickpocket and in the melee she loses her hat pin. As the class searches for the pin, Miss Withers witnesses a body being toss
...more
Laura
Miss Hildegarde Withers is just in time to see a body slide into the penguin pool while on a field trip to the New York Aquarium with her third grade class. She rushes around the corner to the stairway to the behind-the-scenes to see if she can help, but it's too late. Homicide detectives are called, and the place is put on lock down until everyone can be interviewed. Detective Piper arrives; the person who normally takes notes doesn't. Miss Withers volunteers to take notes as he interviews. And ...more
Donna
This mystery series was unknown to me until mentioned on a blog (I wish I could remember which one; I'd give you credit). Hildegarde Withers is a 30-something school teacher looking for adventure. She finds it when on a class trip to the NY Aquarium she sees a dead man fall into the water in the penguin exhibit. When police inspector Oscar Piper arrives on the scene he uses Hildegarde's keen sight and her ability to take shorthand notes to keep her involved in the case. Of course in the end it i ...more
Gee-Gee
The Penguin Pool Murder
by Stuart Palmer

This book was written in 1938 and reads like a 30's movie. I could hear the "tough guy" accents and the "doll's" flirtatious "innocents". Some attitudes and words were not politically correct, something I wouldn't excuse in a current book, but take time and culture into account with this book. In my mind's eye, I could see the art deco style of the museum and other buildings mentioned.
The mystery was clever and took interesting twists and turns. The repar
...more
Marj
The Penguin Pool Murder was the first book Stuart Palmer wrote about Miss Hildegarde Withers.
Miss Withers is a teacher, and while on a field trip with her class, discovers and becomes involved in investigating the murder of a man found in the penguin pool at the New York City Aquarium.

This book was published in 1931, and displays some of the typical stereotypes of the era, but also seems a little ahead of its time with the attitude of independent, well-educated and intelligent Hildegarde Wither
...more
Michele bookloverforever
set in the very beginning of the depression..the first week after...jealousy, bitterness, callous people, cynicism...and murder. found the plot a bit farfetched.
Mary
Given the name, I think I expected a lot out of this book, and, consequently, was disappointed when it didn't deliver everything I was hoping for. Set and originally written in the 30s, the book contains many terms and phrases that I was completely unfamiliar with. For me, it was a difficult story to really enjoy when I kept being amazed at how proper evidenciary procedures were not being followed, especially since I'm a lover of the modern murder mystery.

The book wasn't my cup of tea, though s
...more
Bonnie
I liked this book for the characters and setting more than the writing style, which was pretty sparse. The plot was interesting and moved along well. I'll probably read more of his books to see how the characters develop.
Carolin
I enjoyed the films more
Debbie Zapata
Someitmes I can figure out whodunnit, but not this time...I was as surprised as all the characters were. Great read!!
Carol
Hilarious and convoluted! Danny recommends the movie version, too!
Cathy Houston
Sleuth Miss Withers is American style Miss Marple but not as good.
Shirley
I love this series... #1 and read by Julie McKay
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Stuart Palmer (1905–1968) was an American author of mysteries. Born in Baraboo, Wisconsin, Palmer worked a number of odd jobs—including apple picking, journalism, and copywriting—before publishing his first novel, the crime drama Ace of Jades, in 1931. It was with his second novel, however, that he established his writing career: The Penguin Pool Murder introduced Hildegarde Withers, a schoolmarm ...more
More about Stuart Palmer...

Other Books in the Series

Hildegarde Withers (1 - 10 of 17 books)
  • Murder on Wheels
  • Murder on the Blackboard
  • The Puzzle of the Pepper Tree
  • The Puzzle of the Silver Persian
  • The Puzzle of the Red Stallion
  • The Puzzle of the Blue Banderilla
  • The Puzzle of the Happy Hooligan
  • Miss Withers Regrets
  • Quatre De Perdues
  • The Monkey Murder and other Hildegarde Withers stories
Murder on the Blackboard The Puzzle of the Happy Hooligan The Cases of Hildegarde Withers Murder on Wheels The Puzzle of the Silver Persian

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