Ellery Queen

The Tragedy of X
1932
Let the Unknown = X!! A crowded street car! A man is murdered! Everyone saw him die, but no one saw the killer! Many people (even his own partner) had good reason to hate Longstreet. Inspector Thumm's few clues all led up a blind alley. He finally sought the aid of Drury Lane, retired Shakespearean actor, who made a hobby of solving crimes. Seated amid the splendor of the vast medieval halls of his castle on the Hudson, Drury Lane hears the story from the Inspector. He knows who the murderer is, but refuses to reveal his identity until he has sufficient evidence for the police to arrest him. This story is crammed full of chilling thrills! Why was the streetcar conductor murdered? Why won't Longstreet's partner talk? The answers to these questions and others all lead to the solution of this puzzling mystery. Here is a mystery you MAY be able to solve! If Drury Lane knows the answer just from hearing the facts...well read it and see how clever YOU can be in solving this ‘who dunnit’.

The first of a short series revolving around the stone-deaf Drury Lane, retired stage actor and amateur sleuth. Like the contemporaneous EQ stories it is heavily devoted to logic, deduction, and fairly worked-out puzzles. It is rather easier going for the reader than the early EQ tales—extremely well-written, with dialogue that flows naturally, and indelible scene-painting. Its flaw is not in the logic, but in the surrealistically far-fetched resolution. Includes the first-ever EQ 'dying clue'. Like the succeeding three books in the series, originally published under the pseudonym 'Barnaby Ross'.

The Tragedy of Y
1932
The Mad Hatters of Washington Square were not only mad but vicious—'nasty people' as their neighbors were prone to whisper. So when the worst of the lot, old Emily Hatter, is found murdered, no one was particularly upset, except possibly Louisa Campion, her deaf, dumb, and blind daughter by a former marriage. In this tangled web, not one of the family was above suspicion. There were Barbara, the Delphic oracle of New York's intelligentsia, whose abnormality bordered on genius; Conrad, who loved liquor but couldn't hold it; Jackie, his son, with a wily brain and an inspired gift for inventing cruelties; and Jill, the eternal debutante, who experimented with life with a capital L. But when the clues began to point to Emily's husband, York, proved dead beyond a reason of a doubt, Inspector Thumm turned in desperation to his old friend Drury Lane, the famous actor, whose brilliant analysis and solution of the case proved the Tragedy of Y a tragedy indeed.

This is even better than X is most respects. Several EQ themes are introduced that play major roles in his later works, and the portrait of the 'mad' Hatters is vivid and more than a little creepy. Drury takes a couple of logical leaps in coming to his solution, but there is nothing as credulity-stretching as in X. But it too has a disappointing flaw: the identity of the killer, so well disguised through much of the story, is really let out of the bag too soon by an overly obvious clue, leaving the final chapters a bit of an anti-climax.

The Tragedy of Z
1933
Detection by rule of Thumm. Brooding over the quiet countryside of Tilden County in upstate New York stand the grim walls of Algonquin Prison. And on the very day that Senator Fawcett, a man with many enemies, is found stabbed to death in his study, a little man is released from that prison. Inspector Thumm and his daughter Patience, who have accepted a commission from Elihu Clay to look into the affairs of his 'silent partner', try to unravel the web of circumstantial evidence that has enmeshed an innocent man. But time grows short, and John Hume, the District Attorney and the Senator's political opponent, finds a quick conviction expedient. Patience refuses to be beaten by lack of evidence, and with the help of her father's old friend, Drury Lane, finally stops an execution and brings the true criminal to justice.

The series continues to improve and in just the third installment takes a daring new turn. The Inspector is off the force, working as a P.I., and his heretofore unmentioned daughter shows up to solve crimes with him—what's more, she is the narrator of the story. Say what you will, this change of personalities and perspectives brings a freshness to the proceedings; it doesn't hurt that Patience Thumm as written is a thoroughly delightful and attractive heroine. Here the plot doesn't have the complexity or staggering twists of the predecessors, but then again it is not as implausible or far-fetched. And, minus a small logical lapse here and there, it comes to a magnificent conclusion in one of the finest 'unmasking of the killer' soliloquies ever.

Drury Lane's Last Case
1933
Ellery Queen challenges you to solve these clues to death. A thin envelope—worth a man's life. A shattered display case—whose stolen contents a thief replaced with a strange manuscript. The murder symbol: 3HS wM-...the queer cipher found to be an old mark of death. These are but a few of the baffling signs Drury Lane follows down a path of deception and murder to one of the most startling climaxes in mystery fiction!

Startling it must have been! Reverting now to a third-person narrative, this has possibly the most intriguing and gripping plotline of the series, full of surprise twists, reverses, and inexplicable events. Structurally it is not all that sound—a key clue is dropped rather unsubtly but nobody in the story picks up on it until long after the reader catches on. There are loose ends and unexplained developments here and there that never do get dealt with. And the 'startling' identity of the murderer, in the back of the alert reader's mind from the first chapter, becomes less and less startling as the story proceeds, mainly for one reason that to delineate here would spoil the fun for the uninitiated. But hang it all, it's still our favorite of the series. Even if you think you know whodunnit, it's a tricky matter to come to it logically rather than through mere guesswork, and the clues are all there to be read. EQ's writing is here at a peak—the notion that characterization and emotion in his early work were shortchanged is neatly demolished by this tome.

The Glass Village
1955
Lynch him! The frail body of Fanny Adams was barely cold when the cry for blood raced through the town as a plague. Shinn Corners' sole celebrity had been slain, her skull split open by a poker, and now the good townspeople were thirsty for vengeance. So what if there were no fingerprints, no bloodstains, no witnesses to the crime! At least there was a suspect... an outsider with the strange name of Kowalczky... and for the hate-crazed mob that was all the proof anyone needed. Only two men didn't think so. Judge Lewis Shinn and his nephew Johnny smelled a colossal frame-up. To prove it, though, they had to stage one of the most preposterous trials in history, and hope they could find the real killer before the final yank of the executioner's rope!

Supposedly an allegory about McCarthyism. Well received critically but we've never gotten around to reading it.

Cop-Out
1968
Who are you, Malone? Just a little while ago you were a cop. That was before the two punks and their girl hit town. That was before they boosted a payroll and shot down a man and took your 9-year-old daughter as insurance to cover their getaway. Now you're just a man. Scared. Not for yourself—that would be easy. But for your child, the only thing in the world you love enough to make you play ball with the kind of scum you've hated all your life. Except that you're one of them now. You've crossed the line no cop can ever cross. And there's just one desperate way of getting back.

A hard-boiled crime story, not a mystery in any sense. Lee insisted it was not ghost-written, but I’ve long suspected this was one of their farmed-out paperback originals that they thought could make it as a hardcover, and had it published that way. However Manfred Lee’s son Rand says his dad counted this as one of his favorites, and had gone on ride-alongs with local police officers as part of his research.

True Crime
  • Ellery Queen's International Casebook (1964)
  • The Woman in the Case (1967)
True crime stories as related by 'Ellery Queen' from the pages of The American Weekly, in Dell paperbacks.


apocrypha

Faux Ellery Queen Novels

When the Columbia series of B-films came out, several scripts were revamped into novelizations and published. These are quickie productions, with no involvement by Dannay or Lee:

Ellery Queen, Master Detective
1941
Also published as: The Vanishing Corpse.
Source: screenplay for Ellery Queen, Master Detective (a bastardized version of The Door Between).
The Victim Vanishes... Nikki Porter found the body—and found herself in hot water as well, suspected of murder! Ellery Queen had a deadline for solving the crime—and no clues to go on! And the victim himself added to the confusion by vanishing on the way to the morgue! Here is one of Ellery Queen’s most bizarre mysteries—now for the first time in a paperback edition!

The Penthouse Mystery
1941
Source: screenplay for Ellery Queen’s Penthouse Mystery (based on the radio play The Three Scratches).
The body in the trunk, the vanishing jade necklace, the ventriloquist, the magician, and the card sharp—a murderous mix of clues and characters that gives detection’s most expert amateur, Ellery Queen, one of his trickiest cases—a fast-paced puzzler which will be new to EQ’s vast paperback audience!

The Perfect Crime
1942
Source: screenplay for Ellery Queen and the Perfect Crime (based on The Devil to Pay).
With $250,000—of somebody else’s money—in his pocket, Ellery had the time of his life buying the famous Garten book collection as it was auctioned off. But the fun didn’t last long, for before evening John Mathews, who had been responsible for Garten’s ruin, was found murdered. And neither the book collector, nor the dead man’s nephew, Walter, who was engaged to Garten’s daughter, had any kind of an alibi. To complicate things still further exactly when had Rhodes, the crooked lawyer, left the Mathews’ house that day—and exactly what was Carlotta Emerson, Walter’s aunt, hiding?


Two following two entries are EQ radio scripts made into novels (so the plots are probably authentic even if the writing isn't); they also appeared as Better Little Books in 1942. Neither of the cousins had a hand in these:

The Last Man Club
1941
Source: radio play The Adventure of the Last Man Club.
Big motive—$100,000, payable to the final survivor of the strange Last Man Club. It was a wonder they didn’t start killing each other off...and then they did—plunging Ellery Queen and Nikki Porter into a challenging chase after an invulnerable killer!

The Murdered Millionaire
1941
Source: radio play The Adventure of the Murdered Millionaire.
No motive—Nobody had any reason to want Peter Jordan dead—yet the ailing millionaire sent Ellery a desperate call for help...and Ellery and Nikki found him murdered! Not motive...no clues...for once Ellery Queen was bogged down—until he found a very important wad of chewing gum!


The Four of Hearts Mystery
1942 (William Rand, aka William Roos)
Source: novel The Four of Hearts
The EQ novel dramatized as a theatrical play.


Faux Ellery Queen Jr Novels

These short novels for children are published as by ‘Ellery Queen Jr’. Ellery does make at least a cameo appearance in a few of them. Listings include the identities of the ghost-writers. Reportedly Mr Holding farmed out at least one of his assignments to a lower-tier ghost, infuriating Manfred Lee.

The Black Dog Mystery
1942 (Samuel Duff McCoy)
Two boys, a girl, and one small dog, as a detective gang, make this a jolly and exciting mystery yarn for boys and girls. When there's a bank robbery in the country village where Djuna lives, and one of his dog's best friends gets shot in the escape, the boy makes up his mind he'll find out who did it. His chum and his dog Champ are in on the hunt and two heads and a keen nose are better than one. The boys remember something queer they noticed about a truck with a covered load that passed them on the road when they were going fishing. Clue follows clue, and when the Scottie gets himself all smeared with fresh paint, and Clarabelle spoils a picture, Djuna emerges as a regular Ellery Queen! Every boy and girl who likes dogs or mysteries will enjoy every page of this story, and fathers and mothers who follow the great Ellery Queen will enjoy starting their children right on Ellery Queen Jr!

The Golden Eagle Mystery
1942 (Frank Belknap Long)
What happened to the stone egg in the carved claw? What was the meaning of the faded ink message, ‘I have put the nest-egg where it be?’ Why should anyone steal and wreck the lobster boat named Patagonia? How did a carved cane get into the eagle's nest? That young ‘G-man’ with the odd name—Djuna—and his pal, Billy Reckless, piece together the clues to a 150-year-old mystery. Only quick thinking enables them to outsmart crooks following the same clues to a pot of—well, that would be giving away another exciting Ellery Queen Jr. mystery story. Djuna and his dog Champ go to Stony Harbor to spend what he thinks will be a quiet and uneventful holiday in a seaside village. But little does Djuna know what is in store! First he meets Billy Reckless and his ‘dog’ Alberto. (And we are sure you can't fail to be amused by Alberto!) Then there is the mystery which enshrouds Djuna's Aunt Patty. Things begin to happen! Djuna has a grand time with his new-found friend, lobstering, sailing and exploring, till Aunt Patty's motor boat the Patagonia mysteriously disappears. Ellery Queen Junior has created a likable character in Djuna the Junior Sleuth, not forgetting, of course, hjs black Scotty, Champ.

The Green Turtle Mystery
1944 (Frank Belknap Long)
Djuna and Ben weren’t sure they believed in ghosts. The little girl who opened the door of the haunted house didn’t look like a ghost, yet she vanished into thin air! They had to find out what happened to her. And they had to rescue Waterbury, the time-telling turtle who walked into the deserted house—and didn’t walk out. Djuna found clues—the man with the green feather, and the strange parrot that spoke Spanish—and he added them all up to solve a case the Secret Service couldn’t crack!

The Red Chipmunk Mystery
1946 (Samuel Duff McCoy)
Wonderful adventure story of boy Djuna, who uses his eyes and his head and his little Scottie dog (terrier), Champ, who uses his nose. There is also Mr. Scissors, the traveling knife grinder, driving though the country in a wonderful caravan with his young granddaughter, Joan, and also two wicked men who are cruel to Mr. Scissors, plus a reporter named Socker Furlong and Miss Annie Ellery who plays a surprising part at the end. ‘...Mr.Furlong, a newspaper reporter, was a friend of both the boys'. They admired him, because he was a really good reporter, but he liked to pretend that he was lazy. Waterbury looked alarmed at seeing so many people around and hastily pulled his head back inside his shell....’

The Brown Fox Mystery
1948 (Samuel Duff McCoy)
When those two enthusiastic fishermen, Djuna and his friend Tommy, are offered a chance to spend the summer at fish-filled Silver Lake, as the guests of Miss Annie Ellery, they are overjoyed. But great as the fishing proves to be, there is more in store: Silver Lake holds a mystery and the boys find themselves swept up in a series of exciting and dangerous adventures, involving an abandoned ice-house and two fires, as they help to solve it.

The White Elephant Mystery
1950 (Samuel Duff McCoy)
Free passes to the circus seemed pretty exiting to Djuna and his friend Tommy Williams, and things promised to be even more exiting when they met their old friends Socker and Cannonball at the entrance gate. But they were only the start of a hair-raising experience. The boys soon learned that the newspaper reporter and the state trooper were trying to uncover a pack of ‘grifters’, tricksters who were cheating the circus audiences; and as one strange and frightening event follows another, Djuna and Tommy are caught up in the glittering, upside-down world of the circus, and find themselves in the middle of one of the most weird and dangerous mysteries they have ever encountered!

The Yellow Cat Mystery
1952 (Samuel Duff McCoy)
Djuna visits his friend Tommy in Florida. His yellow cat has a sore tooth and they set of to see the dentist. The dentist is new to the town and doesn't seem to be able to help them. They do however notice two persons who came from a mysterious black-lacquered ship at sea... A normal beginning to a unusual adventure...

The Blue Herring Mystery
1954 (Samuel Duff McCoy)
Mysteries have a way of finding Djuna, and this time a missing page from an old ship's log and the dead captain's haunted house start the ball rolling. Djuna has learned that Captain Beekman brought a treasure from his whaling trips. Who can have an interest to let the boy get lost? Was he close to the answer of the mystery?

The Mystery of the Merry Magician
1961 (James Holding)
Gulliver Queen, nephew of the famous detective Ellery Queen, doesn’t want to be a detective. But when Gully and his new friend, Fisty Jones, investigate the strange underwater noises in the Hudson River, they suddenly find themselves deep in a mystery that Gulliver couldn’t resist tackling. The menacing tattooed man, the weird one-eyed figure in the abandoned building, the strange but merry Magnus Merlin, magician extraordinary—all add up to an exciting tale of danger and suspense on—and under—the waterfront of New York.

The Mystery of the Vanished Victim
1961 (James Holding)
’Katal!’ THe black bird repeated the two syllables again and again. ‘Katal! Katal!’ As Gulliver Queen seeks out the meaning of the strange word, he is drawn into the world of international diplomacy—and dangerous espionage! As he follows the trail of clues, Gully acquires two friends from India who aid him in the search for a missing embassy guard. Treachery and intrigue meet the young sleuths at every turn, and flying bullets lead to flying spies as Gully and his friends uncover a fantastic plot that threatens the very future of the United Nations!

The Purple Bird Mystery
1966 (James Holding)
What is the connection of Fowl Relief and an English golf-playing king? Does the nickname of Jimmy Douglas's great-great-grandfather have any significance? Tie these answers with the other clues and the mystery of the purple bird is solved, but not until Djuna, the brilliant young sleuth, and his pal Jimmy go through an ordeal that almost takes their lives. The boys tangle with an antique dealer and a tigerskin diary—just to name a few of the events—in their struggle to solve the mystery. In Ellery Queen Jr the young mystery reader finds a master at sleuthing as well as storytelling.