Queen's Bureau of Investigation: the Casebook

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1932-1933   BARNABY ROSS    To list

Barnaby Ross was in many ways a sidekick invented by two clever marketing men. In the tradition of his illustrious colleague he soon went on tour to discuss with Ellery Queen several cases put to them by an unsuspecting audience. Those cases, some of them fictional, kept audiences sitting on the edge of their seats and kept, above all, media talking about the two writers who's identity was not yet unraveled. The identity-cultus set up by the cousins was intended to be confusing.  Barnaby Ross was heralded by two comments in Queen novels. The first of them in JJMcC's first foreword where he mentioned the fact that the inspector had given some (incognito) advice in the "Barnaby Ross - murder case". 
Nevins thinks the name Barnaby Ross might be an echo of the building in Elmira known as Barnaby's barn, which Dannay often played in as a child and which figures in his autobiographical novel The Golden Summer.
Considered to be among EQ's finest work and true classics of the genre, it starred Drury Lane in four novels of 1932 - 1933.
It seems strange that many avid Queen followers never have gotten around to read these. While in Eastern countries the books still top the "best of" lists today.
With the fourth contribution to the series the cousins stopped publishing Ross books simply because, whilst taking them as long to write, the sales weren't as good. For the same reason the Drury Lane series was republished under Ellery Queen's own name.


The Tragedy of X  (1932)

The Tragedy of X - Q.B.I.Everyone saw Longstreet die, but no one saw the killer! Inspector Thumm's few clues all led up a blind alley. He finally sought the aid of Drury Lane, retired Shakespearean acto, 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.

First appearance of Drury Lane. Introduces the classic Queenian motif of the "dying message," Elaborate mystery in this book, involving three complex murders, with a somewhat far fetched solution. (Click on the cover to read more...)

The Tragedy of Y (1932)

The Tragedy of Y - Q.B.I.The Mad Hatters of Washington Square were not only mad but vicious "nasty people" . So when the worst of the lot, old Emily Hatter, was found murdered, no one was particularly upset, except possibly Louisa Campion, her deaf, dumb, and blind daughter by a former marriage. 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.

Seems to be a case of murder by a dead man. EQ's first mathematics-based solution which seems related to EQ's deep commitment to logic and reasoning. (Click on the cover to read more...)

The Tragedy of Z (1933)

The Tragedy of Z - Q.B.I.Detection by rule of Thumm. Senator Fawcett, a man with many enemies, is found stabbed to death in his study. Inspector Thumm and his daughter Patience try to unravel the web of circumstantial evidence that has enmeshed an innocent man. Patience refuses to be beaten by a lack of evidence, and with the help of Drury Lane, finally stops an execution and brings the true criminal to justice

The first of the two Drury Lane novels which lean rather heavily on Inspector Thumm's daughter, Patience. "It's great glory is the finale, where the detective moves through great chains of evidence to deduce the killer." (Michael E.Grost) (Click on the cover to read more...)

Drury Lane's Last Case (1933)

Drury Lane's Last Case - Q.B.I.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!

Possibly the most intriguing and gripping plotline of the series. It's a tricky matter to the solution logically rather than through mere guesswork, and the logical 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. (Click on the cover to read more...)

Other books have been published under the name of Barnaby Ross, all are harder to find and of the same quality as the non-Queen novels. " Perhaps the cousins choose to"'use" the name Barnaby Ross instead of Ellery Queen, as they normally did with ghostwritten stories, since they consisted not of detective stories but of pseudo-historical stories. Each set in another historical timeframe, these stories were ghostwritten by Don Tracy (who frequently published such 'pulp' under his own name). They are listed here...   


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