Queen's Bureau of Investigation: the Casebook

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1961-1964 PAPERBACK ORIGINALS    To list

Since 1941 Dannay and Lee had been recruiting and training ghostwriters they already had used on some juveniles and adaptations of Queen movies and radio shows. While writer's block is mentioned in The King is Dead (1952) it is believed Manfred developed a series of other psychological ailments, one of which was writer's block in the late fifties, causing both cousins to review the way they wrote novels.

Scott Meredith literary agency wanted to expand Queen's readership beyond the slowly fading genre of formal detective fiction and into the booming field of original crime novels without detection.  Contingent to the cousins' approval they agreed to the publication of a cycle of non-series paperback originals, ghostwritten by other Meredith clients (many connected to Manhunt magazine, another project of Scott Meredith) for a flat fee of around $2,000 per book and published under the Queen name, with all royalties split between Fred and Manny after the agency took its commission. Manny, who had a large family to support and still suffered from writer's block, favored the idea. Fred was violently opposed but felt that his cousin's financial and creative problems left him little choice but to go along since Manny had saved the Queen radio series when the death of Fred's first wife left him unable to perform that function. Lee provided the basic idea and the manuscripts were written by various ghosts and submitted to Manny who edited them more or less as Fred edited the stories he bought for EQMM. Fred even refused to read any of the books published under this scheme, and terminated the arrangement soon after Manny's death.

The paperback originals are graded significant lower than the true Ellery Queen novels. Still, some are fairly good A Room to Die In is  a better locked-room mystery than most.  Harsh critic about the ghosted paperbacks (and their authorship) was avoided by keeping their exact contribution a secret. The main reason being the possible negative effect on Lee's health. For years this part of the deal was held up, but when it did surface it has led, again, to controversy about the true authorship.

The first package deal Meridith struck was with Pocket Books for 15 ghosted Queens...


Dead man's Tale (1961)

Dead Man's Tale - Q.B.I.When Barney Street, the fixer, was in Holland during World War II, his life had been saved by a German soldier. Now Barney was dead; his estate was worth $2,000,000. But in his will Barney left it all to Hacha, the German soldier who had saved his life. Barney's wife, Estelle, wanted that money. If Hacha was dead, she would get it. If not...? So she sent Steve Longacre to Europe to find out.

Written by Stephen Marlowe.
(Click on the cover to read more...)

Death Spins the Platter (1962)

Death Spins the Platter - Q.B.I. Every time he spun a platter on "The King's Session," gold came out: TV earnings, returns on his secret holdings in recording companies, the old payola that some bright young men think only their rightful due. Tutter was a gay young man-around-town. He was also involved in some hanky-panky with his pretty blond assistant, Lola Arkwright. And then the roof started to cave in.

Written by
Richard Deming.
(Click on the cover to read more...)


Murder with a Past (1963)

Murder with a Past - Q.B.I. Who killed Cox, the robber? Was it Ruth Tully, who visited Crandall Cox on the night of his death? What about Sandra Jean who knew more than she was telling about the sudden demise of blackmailer Cox? Or had some past scandal driven lawyer Ollie Hurst and his wife, Norma, to claim the blackmailer's life? Dave Tully didn't know who the killer was, but if he didn't find out fast, the price of failure could be death...!

Cast of characters. Written by Talmage Powell.
(Click on the cover to read more...)

Kill as Directed (1963)

Kill as Directed - Q.B.I.Competent, respectable Dr. Harry Brown   - failure! Until the day old man Gresham, with his bum ticker, his millions, and his voluptuous young spouse, hired Harry as his doctor. Then it was money, luxury- and love. But what happens to a doctor when someone slips a corpse into his locked apartment? How can Harry tell his richest patient he's having an affair with the man's wife? It's enough to give a man a heart attack. But which man?

Cast of characters. Written by Henry Kane. (Click on the cover to read more...)

Wife or Death (1963)

Wife or Death - Q.B.I. Angel was voluptuous child-woman, bouncing in and out of every bed in town, until she landed in the wrong one and found death was her lover.  But what could Jim do when even the D.A., last in a parade of Angel's lovers, was out to pin the murder on him? He had to find the one who had played Angel false or let an avenging Angel cheat him again. Only this time he would pay with his life...!

Cast of characters. Written by
Richard Deming.
(Click on the cover to read more...)

The Golden Goose (1964)
         aka Who Killed the Golden Goose?

The Golden Goose - Q.B.I.Old Slater O'Shea, the golden goose, was ruler of a peculiar roost. A gaggle of free-loading O'Sheas were lazing around the mansion, letting Slater foot the bills, while they waited for him to die and leave them his money. But someone got tired of waiting.  It was up to Cibola City's finest to find out who'd cooked Uncle Slater's goose, before the charming O'Sheas could play any more gruesome games in their battle for the goose's gold.

Cast of characters included. Written by Fletcher Flora. (Click on the cover to read more...)

The Four Johns (1964)
          aka Four Men Called John

The Four Johns - Q.B.I.The four of them had only two things in common - their name and a love for the ladies. John Boce was a no-account accountant John Thompson was a secretive librarian who liked his books and his women well-stacked. John Viviano was a fashion photographer with a great feel for a body - any body! And John Pilgrim was a poetic bum who had the girls hanging on his every stanza. All of them wanted the same woman, but which one wanted her enough to kill...?

Cast of characters included, ghostwritten by Jack Vance. (Click on the cover to read more...)

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Introduction | Floor Plan | Q.B.I. | List of Suspects | Whodunit?  | Q.E.D. | Kill as directed | New  | Copyright

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