A little while ago I read The Roman Hat Mystery (1929), the debut novel by Ellery Queen, the nom de plume of cousins Daniel Nathan and Emanuel Lepofsky, in turn better known as Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee. I didn’t love it, but I’ve read about ten Ellery Queen books and found a lot to enjoy in some of them, and a great many people whose opinions I value assert that the work done by these two under this name was vital to the development of the genre.
In spite of that, I don’t really feel that I have any understanding or overview of the Queen oeuvre; tonally and quality-wise the ones I have read — and, if I’m completely honest, I’m a little shaky as to exactly which ones they are — are all over the place, as befits a four-decade career covering multiple media platforms. But they definitely did hugely valuable work, and I wish to correct my ignorance. So, I hereby formally announce that I shall be reading the 39 novels and one novella that Dannay and/or Lee worked on (the name was later farmed out for others to produce work under it) in order of publication and posting my findings, thoughts, and other esoterica as it occurs to me here.
I’ve created its own category here on the blog, so that it doesn’t get lost amidst the general ‘Reviews’ heading, and I’ll be chipping away at them over the next few years — I typically avoid reading books by the same author too close together, so I reckon this has a good six or seven years to run. Hell, I may not even be blogging by the time I finish it, who knows what will happen? And, yes, I shall even reread the ones I know I’ve read (Roman Hat being the exception, as that’s already catalogued on here), even though I distinctly remember The Egyptian Cross Mystery (1932), The King is Dead (1952), and possibly The Four of Hearts (1938) to be absolute stinkers.
Dannay and Lee also wrote a large number of short stories, many of which I have read, but I don’t currently plan to include them in this. That may — and if I enjoy myself as much as I’m expecting to, probably will — change, but at present I own all the novels and so we’ll start there.
So, that announcement made, next Tuesday I shall get officially underway by looking at The French Powder Mystery…
The instant I finished writing this post, Ben at The Green Capsule announced his intention of doing exactly the same thing. Coincidence? Well, yes, but if you want a war, Ben, then I’ll give you a war…
Oh, you don’t want a war? Well, then, carry on. Perhaps we’ll even overcome this initial animosity to team up at some point — if Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice has taught me anything, that’s a distinct possibility.
I’m also delighted to tell you that the winner of my fiendish Murder on the Way! competition is…Andy William. Congratulations, Andy! Zombies, impossible shootings, and some truly wonderful writing is yours, all yours. Bask in the glory of your win for the moment; I shall be in touch for your contact details, and will aim to get the book out to you by the end of the week.
The Ellery Queen novels of Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee (all books Dannay & Lee unless stated otherwise)
1. The Roman Hat Mystery (1929)
2. The French Powder Mystery (1930)
3. The Dutch Shoe Mystery (1931)
4. The Tragedy of X (1932) [as Barnaby Ross]
5. The Greek Coffin Mystery (1932)
6. The Tragedy of Y (1932) [as Barnaby Ross]
7. The Egyptian Cross Mystery (1932)
8. The Tragedy of Z (1933) [as Barnaby Ross]
9. The American Gun Mystery (1933)
10. Drury Lane’s Last Case (1933) [as Barnaby Ross]
11. The Siamese Twin Mystery (1933)
12. The Chinese Orange Mystery (1934)
13. The Spanish Cape Mystery (1935)
14. The Lamp of God, a.k.a. The House of Haunts [n] (1935)
15. Halfway House (1935)
16. The Door Between (1937)
17. The Devil to Pay (1937)
18. The Four of Hearts (1938)
19. The Dragon’s Teeth, a.k.a. The Virgin Heiresses (1939)
20. Calamity Town (1942)
21. There Was an Old Woman, a.k.a. The Quick and the Dead (1943)
22. The Murderer Is a Fox (1945)
23. Ten Days’ Wonder (1948)
24. Cat of Many Tails (1949)
25. Double, Double (1950)
26. The Origin of Evil (1951)
27. The King Is Dead (1952)
28. The Scarlet Letters (1953)
29. The Glass Village (1954)
30. Inspector Queen’s Own Case (1956)
31. The Finishing Stroke (1958)
32. The Player on the Other Side (1963) [Dannay w’ Theodore Sturgeon]
33. And on the Eighth Day (1964) [Dannay w’ with Avram Davidson]
34. The Fourth Side of the Triangle (1965) [Dannay w’ Avram Davidson]
35. A Study in Terror, a.k.a. Ellery Queen vs Jack the Ripper (1966) [w’ Paul W. Fairman]
36. Face to Face (1967)
37. The House of Brass (1968) [Dannay w’ Avram Davidson]
38. Cop Out (1969)
39. The Last Woman in His Life (1970)
40. A Fine and Private Place (1971)