Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Puzzle of the Silver Persian: Review

In The Puzzle of the Silver Persian, Stuart Palmer takes the indomitable Hildegarde Withers--schoolteacher and amateur sleuth--on a vacation to England via the S. S. American Diplomat.  She's hoping to get away from crime for a while and recover from her last adventure--a rather ghastly one for her in which she was instrumental in sending a couple to the gallows.  But before the passengers go ashore in England one young woman has disappeared, suicide or thrown overboard?, and the suspect in her disappearance is dead from cyanide.  The police seem willing to believe that the bartender killed the girl and then himself, but Miss Withers isn't so sure.  And when threatening notes begin showing up and more deaths follow, it would seem that she was right to be doubtful.  It isn't until she visits the Cornwall castle home of two of her fellow passengers and understands the clue left by Tobermory, the silver Persian cat in question, that the puzzle is finally unraveled.

Miss Withers is a bit out of her element in this one.  She suffers from sea sickness which throws her off her balance--and then, of course, in England she doesn't have the trust in her abilities that she enjoys from Detective Piper back home.  But the Scotland Yard men soon learn that Hildegarde knows her stuff and can, as she says, smell murder, and it doesn't take her too long to find her sea legs on board ship and get her bearings in England.  The humor generally found in Palmer's work is very much in evidence--I particularly like the way he works the titular feline into the story (without making things too cutesy) and he also introduces a rather depressed robin by the name of Dicon.  Both will be very important to the solving of the mystery.  There are plenty of clues for the observant reader to pick up in this rather fine vintage mystery.  Three and a half stars.

*Counts for 150 Plus, Mount TBR, Vintage Mystery, Embarrassment of Riches, Off the Shelf, Outdo Yourself, A-Z Reading Challenge, Monthly Key Word, Color Coded, What an Animal, A-Z Mystery Author, Book Bingo and Mystery & Crime Challenges.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

I think I've heard of this character before, but pretty sure I've never actually met her. I may have to check her out next time I'm at the used bookstore.