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Nothing makes me happier than discovering a vintage mystery series I didn't know about, unless it is also discovering that it turns out to be a great read! I gather that this book, starring Miss Withers and Inspector Piper was made into a movie at the time, and I hope to find it.
Miss Withers, a teacher who has brought her young class to the aquarium, is there when a murder occurs at the penguin pool. She demonstrates very quickly that she has a good, grounded sort of common sense, and is able to point out things to the inspector to keep him on track during the inspection. She tends to be immediately accepted by the inspector, who realizes that as she offers good ideas and takes conversations down in shorthand, she is indispensable to solving the crime. Even though she is not officially part of the case, one quickly realizes that the author intends her to be the brains behind the process of solving it.
This book is written with a bit of comedic touch, but I doubt the author could have possibly anticipated how much more enjoyable it would become 80 years later to a completely different audience. In these days, we have authors who create female sleuths, trying to insert them into this same time period (just around the timeout of the stock market crash), and they are are fun to read. But this is the "Real McCoy," a woman who was developed into a clever and observant detective (of sorts), even though she is not really acknowledged that way around 1930 or so.
I love this book, and cannot wait for the next ones. The narrator does a very good job, getting the accents just right! This has been a total treat! Thanks, Audible, for bringing this one on board!
32 of 34 people found this review helpful
It's always nice to find a good "new" old mystery series that's been around for decades but is completely unknown to me. That's one of the things I love about Audible. Reading other listeners' reviews sometimes gives me great leads to excellent books I've never heard of before. That's how I came across the Hidlegarde Withers series. So far, I've only read the first book, "The Penguin Pool Mystery," and I would classify it as good but not yet excellent. I expect that there will be improvement in future books, and I enjoyed this first one enough to want to read more.
Copyrighted in 1931, Penguin Pool introduces us to Miss Hildegarde Withers, 39-year-old "spinster" school teacher, who has brought her third grade class to the NYC Aquarium on a field trip, and has the misfortune to spot a dead body in the penguin tank. We also meet Inspector Piper, Inspector of Detectives in the NYPD, who is in charge of the investigation of the death. Not surprisingly, Miss Withers has many observations to contribute to the investigation, and after one of her suggestions helps to avoid a mistake in the investigation, Piper begins to welcome her participation. The story is ingeniously plotted, and the setting of early-depression New York City is well done.
I would have given a higer rating if the narrator had been able to make the 30's-era dialog more believable. This was distracting and reduced the overall enjoyment of the book. Still, it was enjoyable, and I will be listening to more of this series.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to The Penguin Pool Murder the most enjoyable?
I'm a very slow reader, so listening makes the task of enjoying a book a lot quicker than I would have by reading.
What did you like best about this story?
The characters melded well to the plot set within an unusual place....New York City Aquarium.
What does Julie McKay bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
She brings the book alive with the different voices used.
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Any additional comments?
If you like classic 'Golden Age' crime/mystery novels, Stuart Palmer's Miss Hildegarde Withers books are not to be missed.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful