“Mr. Ellery Queen, watching the world rush by in a glaring Long Island sunlight, mused that life was like a Spanish wench: full of surprises, none of them delicate and all of them stimulating. Since he was a monastic who led a riotous mental existence, he liked life that way; and since he was also a detective—an appellation he cordially detested—he got life that way.”
An excellent short-story collection highlighting some of Ellery Queen’s most unusual cases. These stories are all from Queen’s first period, with a strong emphasis on detection and elaborate solutions. The shorter length plays to the authors’ strengths, allowing for airtight plotting against a striking backdrop, without time for the doldrums that sometimes afflict their full-length novels during this period. Continue reading “The Adventures of Ellery Queen (1934) by Ellery Queen”
“I expect you’ve got into a habit of seeing to things. Taking my place, giving orders, seeing to the servants and the flowers. But it is not your house yet, Myra.”
Myra never intended to fall in love with a married man. Of course, Richard Thorne’s situation is unique: his wife Alice is serving a life sentence for murder. Richard and Alice can never be together again, yet if he divorces her, it will look as if he believes in her guilt. Ever since she came to live at Thorne House with her guardian, Lady Cornelia, Myra has admired Richard’s loyalty to his wife. She would never ask him to betray his marriage. Yet it has become intolerable, living in Alice’s house, loving Alice’s husband.
She can’t go on like this much longer. Something has to happen. When it does, however, it’s the last thing Myra ever expected. Alice comes home, her conviction overturned. But if Alice didn’t shoot Jack Manders on that dark night two years ago, then who did? Continue reading “Another Woman’s House (1947) by Mignon G. Eberhart”
“There’s something all wrong about this. God alone knows what it means.”
Lady’s Bower is the loveliest cottage in Somersetshire—more beautiful, even, than the nearby manor house Crosby Hall. Visitors are often surprised to find this choice property occupied by a servant, but Mrs. Lubbock deserves it after her years of service to the Crosby family. Mrs. Lubbock is enjoying a happy retirement, with her three daughters settled in life. Amy and Isabel are ladies’ maids in London. Lucy, a trained nurse, lives at home with her mother while working in the village hospital. It’s even rumored that Lucy has caught the eye of Dr. Christopher Crosby, the heir to Crosby Hall.
It seems impossible that anything bad could happen in such an idyllic setting. But the Lubbock family’s peaceful life is about to be shattered by violent death…not just once, but again and again. Continue reading “Cottage Sinister (1931) by Q. Patrick”
“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”
“Fact of the matter is, Lane, we’re in something crazy, I’m not getting any money out of it, it’s the nuttiest yarn you ever heard, and I’ve got to do something about it.”
Since leaving the police force to set up shop as a private detective with his daughter Patience, Inspector Thumm has encountered some strange propositions. This one has to be the oddest, however. A man with a blue and green beard hires him to guard an envelope, which he promises contains “a secret worth millions.” What seems like easy money proves to be anything but. As one crime follows another, Patience, the Inspector, and their friend Drury Lane are drawn into a literary scandal that will change their lives forever. Continue reading “Drury Lane’s Last Case (1933) by Ellery Queen”
“Did the old chap have a fainting spell?”
“The old chap,” said Ellery grimly, “had a bullet spell, that’s what he had. He was murdered, Major—drilled through the heart.”
Buck Horne isn’t just a movie cowboy; he’s the real thing. He can bust any bronco, rope any steer, and hit any target with his trusty pistols. Lately, he’s been riding a very different kind of range: Broadway. Buck is hoping that appearing with Wild Bill Grant’s rodeo at the Colosseum will revive his screen career. Instead, it ends his life.
Twenty thousand spectators watch in horror as Buck is felled by a gunshot, his body trampled by dozens of horses. One of those twenty thousand people is Buck’s killer—but one of them is legendary detective Ellery Queen. Continue reading “The American Gun Mystery (1933) by Ellery Queen”
“You seem to know everything.”
Miss Withers smiled grimly. “I don’t—but I intend to.”
This journey across the Atlantic was meant to be the start of Rosemary Fraser’s independent life. The nineteen-year-old has grand plans for her trip around the world, but nothing is turning out the way she hoped. On the very first night of the voyage, she meets an attractive man who convinces her to tryst with him in a storage locker, only to be humiliated when a fellow passenger locks them in. Her partner leaves Rosemary to bear the shame alone.
Rosemary has become the laughingstock of the ship. And if her parents find out what happened, all of her dreams are over. So when Rosemary vanishes from the deck one foggy night, the other passengers assume she committed suicide—all except Hildegarde Withers. She suspects there is a killer on board, but will she be able to convince Scotland Yard? Continue reading “The Puzzle of the Silver Persian (1934) by Stuart Palmer”
“A murder’s no place for a young girl.”
Patience Thumm is back from her grand tour of Europe and eager to jump into the family business—which happens to be murder. Her father, the former Inspector Thumm, has left the New York City Police Department to become a private investigator. The Thumms are hired to look into the shady activities of Senator Joel Fawcett. Their misgivings are justified when Fawcett is found murdered, clutching a broken toy box in his dead hand.
A case this challenging calls for a master detective. Thumm calls upon his old friend Drury Lane, who is lured out of retirement to investigate the murder. In Patience, Lane recognizes a budding detective whose skills might equal, or even surpass, his own. And despite her father’s misgivings, Patience is determined to prove that a woman’s place is at a crime scene. Continue reading “The Tragedy of Z (1933) by Ellery Queen”
“So this was murder. This was murder, and it happened to people one knew, and it did indescribable and horrible things to them. Frightened them first, perhaps. Fear of murder itself came first—simple, primitive fear of the unleashing of the beast. And then on its heels came more civilized fear, and that was fear of the law, and a scramble for safety.”
The Cases of Susan Dare collects the adventures of a young author who writes “murders…lovely, grisly ones with sensible solutions,” but doesn’t see why her fictional sleuths should have all the fun. Aside from her series detective, Nurse Sarah Keate, Mignon G. Eberhart’s work usually focuses more on romantic suspense than crime-solving, so it’s a nice change of pace to see both elements combined in these stories. Continue reading “The Cases of Susan Dare by Mignon G Eberhart (1934)”
“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”