Ellery Queen

There was a recognizable change in the character of the EQ stories (and in the characters themselves) as the series progressed. The early novels are complex exercises in brilliant plotting, stunning the reader with unexpected yet fairly foreshadowed twists. Before long, more humor and character development found its way into the EQ stories, with several novels set not in New York City but in the fictional town of Wrightsville, a beautifully drawn slice of small town America whose attractive facade disguised a darker undercurrent.

In the post-war era, Ellery went through many changes. Sometimes he doubted his abilities, and at one point he swore off detective work entirely. (Fortunately, he reconsidered.) There is some disagreement about the final EQ novels: some are first-rate, others are a bit of a let down. But even those that may disappoint are rich in the insights and imagination inherent in the Queen universe.

The cousins wrote mainly about EQ, but a few books struck out in different directions. Under the name Barnaby Ross they penned an acclaimed short series of mysteries featuring Drury Lane, a stone-deaf retired Shakespearean actor. Still controversial are the 'paperback originals' and the circumstances behind them.

Use the navigation tabs in the side column to learn more about the writings of Frederic Dannay and Manfred Lee.