On vacation in California, Miss Withersdiscovers that a twenty-minute plane ride is long enough for murder.
Because of the fog, the man in the brown suit arrives five minutes late for the ferry to Catalina Island. If he wishes to reach his destination today, his only option is the Dragonfly, a twelve-seat prop plane that makes up in speed what it lacks in comfort. The ride is bumpy, and all of the passengers—including a honeymooning couple, a film producer, and a would-be adventuress—find themselves feeling queasy. But none react as badly as the man in the brown suit, who sweats, shakes, and screams, “I’m dying! I don’t want to die!”—and by the time they reach Catalina, he already has.
Vacationing schoolmarm Hildegarde Withers notices the corpse when they’re taking it off the plane. An amateur sleuth with a nose for murder, it doesn’t take her long to deduce foul play. But which of the passengers was dastardly enough to commit murder in mid-air?
The Puzzle of the Pepper Tree is part of the Hildegarde Withers Mysteries series, which also includes The Penguin Pool Murder and Murder on the Blackboard.
A schoolteacher jumps into detective mode when a fellow airplane passenger gets sick and dies.
Release Date: February 22, 1935
Release Time: 74 minutes
Edna May Oliver as Hildegarde Withers
James Gleason as Inspector Oscar Piper
Lola Lane as Phyllis La Font
George Meeker as Roswell T. Forrest, posing as Tom Kelsey
Dorothy Libaire as Kay Deving
Harry Ellerbe as Marvin Deving
Chick Chandler as Dick French
Willie Best as Willie, the porter
Leo G. Carroll as Director Joseph B. Tate
DeWitt Jennings as Captain Beegle
Spencer Charters as Chief Britt
Arthur Hoyt as Dr. O'Rourke
Matt McHugh as Pilot Madden
Morgan Wallace as McArthur / Arthur Mack
Brooks Benedict as Tom Kelsey, posing as Roswell T. Forrest
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 who, on a field trip to the New York Aquarium, discovers a dead body in the pool. Withers was an immensely popular character, and went on to star in thirteen more novels, including Miss Withers Regrets (1947) and Nipped in the Bud (1951). A master of intricate plotting, Palmer found success writing for Hollywood, where several of his books, including The Penguin Pool Murder, were filmed by RKO Pictures Inc.
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