Ellery Queen Title
Cat of Many Tails I first started reading Ellery Queen novels in 1995. Since then, I've collected nearly all of them, mostly in early editions. I'm not at all a fan of the mystery genre, so I'm somewhat at a loss to explain my fascination with the adventures of Ellery Queen.

I say "adventures" as, of course, the protagonist and author were presented as one and the same. The writing team of Manfred B. Lee and Frederic Dannay ("who, as everyone knows, are Ellery Queen") wrote other detective novels, none of which I could get into.

I know that a large part of the appeal came from the Father-Son relationship at the core of the novels. Ellery, a tall, athletic, Ivy-league educated amateur detective and author lives essentially a batchelor life in a Manhattan brown-stone with his father, Inspector Richard Queen, who is described as frail and bird-like.

You will have to search far and wide for any spoken words of affection between these two creatures, but their true devotion to one another is such that neither can quite bear to spend more than a couple of days apart.

The Devil to Pay
The King is Dead I've always fancied that Ellery wss latently homosexual, despite his (suspiciously) hearty verbal exchanges with the opposite sex. He remains unattached and devoted to his work for the vast majority of his fictional career. Moreover, the Queens retain a house-boy called Djuna who is invariably described as lean, brown and lithe. Djuna will occasionally recline next to Ellery's armchair while his mentor strokes his hair - I kid you not! From his description, I'd go for Djuna myself!
Most of the cases follow a formula, which, I suppose, is consistent with the rest of the genre. Someone is murdered, usually in a domestic or business setting, and there are a variety of possible subjects. More often than not there is a perplexing oddity to the circumstances of death. The clothes of the victim have all been put on backwards - or the footmarks at the murder scene show there to have been three perpetrators, all lame in the right foot!

The unusual circumstances provide Ellery the clues he needs to deduce the only logical solution. However, often, the case is concluded with an unexpected, and bizarre conclusion which serves to demonstrate that even Ellery Queen cannot forsee all eventualities.

The Player on the Other Side
The Last Woman in his Life

Copyright Keith 1996

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