“The really clever woman is all things to all men. Like the chameleon, she takes her coloring from his ideal of her. It is her job to find out what that is.”
Men are dying all over the city. Inspector Wanger is convinced that a single killer is responsible, but these murders are unlike any he has ever encountered. For the suspect is a woman, a woman who insinuates herself into the lives of her prey before vanishing into the night. Who is she? Why does she kill? And how many more men will have to die before she is satisfied? Continue reading “The Bride Wore Black (1940) by Cornell Woolrich”
“The case,” he said slowly, “far from being solved, has just begun.”
Racing up Arrow Mountain in a desperate attempt to escape the forest fire that has cut off the road behind them, Inspector Richard Queen and his son Ellery are relieved to discover a house at the top of the mountain. Their refuge is short-lived, however. Something strange is going on at the Xavier mansion, a situation that can only end in murder. As the flames creep higher and higher up the mountain, the entire group is facing certain death. What they don’t know is how that death will come—from the fire, or at the hands of a human killer. Continue reading “The Siamese Twin Mystery (1933) by Ellery Queen”
“You baited a trap with a ten thousand-dollar bill. You probably didn’t know it was a trap at the time, and I didn’t. But the trap has sprung. I’m caught, and you’re caught…We’ve got to get out.”
A masked woman, an alias, and half of a ten thousand dollar bill—that’s what it takes to get Perry Mason out of bed on a dark and rainy night. The man on the phone is insistent. He has to meet Mason, and it has to be tonight. Tomorrow will be too late. When he arrives at his office, Mason is surprised by the man’s companion, a silent woman whose identity is hidden by a mask and oversized clothing. This woman is his client, even though he has no idea who she is. If his services are needed, she will identify herself by presenting the second half of the ten thousand dollar bill. “What I want you to do is protect her,” the man says. “From what?” asks Mason. “From everything,” he replies. And “everything” is exactly what happens. Continue reading “The Case of the Baited Hook (1940) by Erle Stanley Gardner”
“No one said anything for a long time, and the chill wind of tragedy crept into the room. It was hard to believe, looking out into the sunny gardens, that the master of all this peace and beauty and luxury lay, a stiff headless corpse, in the County Morgue.”
Ellery Queen’s Christmas plans are unusual even for him—the famous sleuth is spending the holidays in Arroyo, West Virginia, where schoolteacher Andrew Van has been crucified and beheaded, his body nailed to a signpost and posed in a T shape. Unable to make any headway on the murder, Ellery slinks home in defeat.
Only a few months later, however, a second shocking crime takes place, this one much closer to home. Wealthy businessman Thomas Brad has been found dead on the grounds of his Long Island estate. Brad’s corpse is crucified, beheaded, and posed just like Van’s. Ellery is certain the crimes are connected, but what could these two men have in common? The answer could lie in the nudist colony that has just moved in across the bay… Continue reading “The Egyptian Cross Mystery (1932) by Ellery Queen”
“We’re all so everlastingly canny and competent and sophisticated these days, going mechanically through a mechanical world, sharpening up our little emotions, tuning up our little sensations— and suddenly there’s a cry of ‘Murder!’ in the streets, and we stop and look back, shuddering, over our shoulder—and across us falls the shadow of a savage with a bloodstained club, and we know that it’s good and dangerous and beautiful to be alive.”
The sleepy town of Rosemont seems an unlikely location for the crime of the century. Yet that’s exactly what is unfolding, as reporters and eager townspeople jostle for front-row seats to the trial that has enthralled the whole country. Two of the town’s leading citizens are on trial for their lives, accused of a brutal crime of passion. But will the verdict reveal the truth? Continue reading “The Bellamy Trial (1927) by Frances Noyes Hart”
“I’ve got to separate the nonsense and the happenings of pure chance from the really ugly side of the business. Chance started it, and murder finished it; that’s what I think.”
London is paralyzed by an unprecedented crime wave—someone is stealing hats from the heads of prominent men and replacing them in ridiculous locations. Reporter Philip Driscoll has seized on the story of the “Mad Hatter” with special glee. His uncle, newspaper magnate Sir William Bitton, has already lost several hats, but that isn’t why he’s consulting Chief Inspector Hadley and Dr. Gideon Fell. Sir William has lost something far more valuable, the manuscript of a previously unknown Edgar Allan Poe story.
Before Fell can begin his investigation, however, the Mad Hatter strikes again. This time the prank has turned fatal. Driscoll is found dead at the Tower of London, his body sprawled at Traitor’s Gate with the bolt from a medieval crossbow protruding from his chest. In a final, macabre touch, the casually dressed corpse is wearing his uncle’s missing top hat. Continue reading “The Mad Hatter Mystery (1933) by John Dickson Carr”
“There seems no motive, but then you don’t need motives in a place like this.”
Broadway producer Peter Duluth fell into a bottle after the death of his wife. It’s a long climb back out, and his recovery is not helped by the sinister whispers he hears at night—his own voice, warning of murder. He discovers that many of his fellow patients at the Lenz Sanitarium are similarly troubled. Have they simply lost their minds, or is someone trying to drive them insane? When a suspicious death does take place, Peter is the only one who can solve the mystery, even at the risk of his own sanity.
Continue reading “A Puzzle for Fools (1936) by Patrick Quentin”