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2015 Editions of the Color Coded , Mount TBR and Vintage Mystery Bingo Challenges--as well as Read It Again, Sam (due to popular demand)-- have been posted. I am also introducing my newest brain-child: Super Book Password. Please check it out!

As in the past, I will post sidebar links for sign-up posts as well as review headquarters once the new year begins.


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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Four Lost Ladies: Review

Four Lost Ladies is Stuart Palmer's 11th mystery starring Miss Hildegarde Withers, the school teacher who is also an amateur sleuth. In this particular story, Miss Withers becomes concerned when a woman who used to live in the same apartment building doesn't send her usual Christmas card.  The women were never the closest of friends, but Alice Davidson was faithful about remembering her former neighbor at the holidays.  Soon Miss Withers learns that not only has Alice disappeared, but so have three other women.....all after staying at the same hotel.  It also looks like each of the women came into a nice sum of money shortly before they disappeared.  Oscar Piper, the detective Miss Withers normally turns to for help, is facing problems of his own and is reluctant to get involved in her (so he says) wild goose chase.  The intrepid school teacher believes that a Bluebeard has been wooing the women, wrangling their money away from them, and then disposing of the unfortunate ladies--permanently.  She teams up with Alice's niece, Jeeps (aka Alice as well), and installs herself in the hotel amid rumors of a sudden windfall in the hopes of luring Bluebeard from his den.  It begins to look like a wild goose chase after all when letters and telegrams arrive signed by the ladies in question....but Miss Withers spots the clues that indicate that someone is pulling a fast one.  She takes a quick cross-country journey to prove her point and delivers the culprit into Piper's hands--just in the nick of time.

This installment in the Withers is very uneven.  It starts out nicely and the interaction between Miss Withers and Jeeps is fun and an added bonus. I really like how Jeeps manages to keep working things so she can stay in the investigation. The story lags after Miss Withers's installment in the hotel until the messages which are intended to throw the police off the scent--picking up again only in the mad-dash, cross-country trip that Miss Withers takes show the police what really happened.  Unfortunately the puzzle, usually a strong point with Palmer, is not as well-crafted or well-clued as others I have read.  There are not really any good pointers to the villain....and no good reason why it couldn't be someone else.  Not Palmer's best showing.  Two stars--primarily for the conversations and action involving Miss Withers and Jeeps.

3 comments:

Yvette said...

Bev, where on earth are you finding these Stuart Palmer books? I can't find any. Forget about my library...

Bev Hankins said...

I just keep haunting the used bookstores and the Red Cross Book Sale each year. I'll keep my eyes open for fair copies of those I already have for you.

Ryan said...

I really want to read his books, but like Yvette, I never find any.