Howie Rook

Created by Stuart Palmer (pseudonyms include Jay Stewart; 1905-68)

A tongue-in-cheek spin on the hard-boiled detective genre (Mike Grost dubbed him "the least hard boiled of all private eyes"), HOWIE ROOK is a former Los Angeles newshawk who collects clippings and isn't shy about casting dispersions on the competence of the police in a stream of letters to his former newspaper. Of course, that means he finds more than a few wingnuts on his doorstep, asking him for help, which in turn lands him in some mighty peculiar situations, such as going undercover at a circus.

Unfortunately, Rook only appeared in a couple of novels and only a few short stories.

Before turning to writing mysteries, Stuart Palmer worked as an apple picker, a journalist and an advertising copywriter. He's probably best known for creating spinster amateur sleuth Hildegarde Withers, who appeared in fourteen novels and several short stories, several of which featured Craig Rice's John J. Malone.

Coincidentally, Miss Withers appeared in the 1941 novel The Case of the Happy Hooligan; fifteen years later, Rook appeared in The Unhappy Hooligan (1956).

NOVELS

SHORT STORIES

  • "The Murder Mask" (June 1955, The American Magazine)
  • "Rook's Gambit" (May 1964, Chase)

Later expanded into the novel Rook Takes Knight.

  • "The Stripteaser and the Private Eye" (November 1968, EQMM)

Report submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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