Queen's Bureau of Investigation: the Casebook

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1942-1949   ELLERY QUEEN    To list

Wrightsville USA! Almost a catchphrase used in the pop industry which makes every Queen fan's heart skip a beat
or at least get excited whenever our sleuth enters the fictional city of Wrightsville, most common small town in America with a distinct seamy side. All Wrightsville-murders are well written as more attention is given to character development and humor. The way some Wrightsville stories interlink only adds to the fun, readers almost experience a feeling of homecoming.
This is the era wherein Ellery Queen experiments with minimalism as his work is stripped down to its most fundamental features. A labor of Hercules seldom seen, certainly in the field of detective literature.

The Four of Hearts (1938), Calamity Town (1942) and The Murderer is a Fox (1945) all have common grounds. Three times we are confronted with poisonings, each time it is hard to figure out how the crime took place. Furthermore in Wrightsville Ellery get invariably separated from the New York Police Department and thus his normal modus operandi. He has to rely on his reputation as sleuth to give him access to any police investigations. The more fallible side to Ellery is especially emphasized. By the early 1940s there was movement toward greater realism in mystery stories, characterization became more important, and the use of psychology was more believable, as were characters who were traumatized by World War II having difficulties adjusting to civilian life.  Nowhere else is the limitation of reason better shown than in Ten Days Wonder (1948). Ellery went through the turmoil of extreme self-doubt almost giving up on being a detective.


Calamity Town (1942)

Calamity Town - Q.B.I.Wrightsville, a typical American town, buried in the great American heartland, up to its neck in good old American corn. The well-respected Wrights: daddy Wright is the town banker, Momma Wright is the town social lioness, daughter Patricia the town beauty, Nora the town recluse, Lola the town scandal.   Ellery has to find out which of the Wrights is the town poisoner, while defending himself against a charge of murder.

The first Wrightsville story is a masterpiece of character and scene. But the key points of the mystery aren't that difficult to figure out. Still, a deservedly recognized classic. Movie: made into a Japanese film The Three Undelivered Letters in 1979. (Click on the cover to read more...) 

There was an Old Woman
                 aka The Quick and the Dead (1943)

There was an Old Woman - Q.B.I.Once upon an evil time, there was a wicked old woman with many millions of dollars, a hen-pecked husband, and six miserable children. Then one day death came visiting the vast Potts mansion--and began claiming its inhabitants one by one. It was then that Ellery was invited to sup on this nightmare brew of diabolical murder and baffling mystery--in a case that made the most horrific crimes in his entire career seem like fairy tales.

You think you're a jump ahead of EQ when you get the solution first--but the solution is not the solution. Or is it? First of a series of multiple twist endings. Introduces Nikki Porter (for the second time). (Click on the cover to read more...) 

The Murderer is a Fox (1945)

The Murderer is a Fox - Q.B.I.For the twelve years following the death of Davy's mother Jessica, and the trial of his father, Davy Fox has suffered inner torture. Davy  knew he loved his wife...as well as he knew he was going to kill her. He didn't know just when it was going to happen--but when a man is born to be a murderer, it's only a matter of time before he claims his birthright. Love turns out to be a matter of life or death--and it's up to Ellery Queen to make the choice!

EQ's second visit to Wrightsville brings his most vividly involving character studies; on this level, it's EQ's masterpiece. A pity that the final final resolution is based on rather thin evidence. (Click on the cover to read more...) 

The Case Book of Ellery Queen (1945)
  • The CaseBook of Ellery Queen - Q.B.I.The House of Darkness (from New Adv.of EQ)
  • The Teakwood Case (from The Adv. of EQ)
  • The Hollow Dragon (from New Adv. of EQ)
  • Long Shot (from New Adv. of EQ)
  • Mind Over Matter (from New Adv. of EQ)
  • The Double Triangle (Radio Script)
  • The Invisible Clock (Radio Script)
  • Honeymoon House (Radio Script)

The five Mercury paperback series normally contained "cut" or "abridged" versions of popular novels, including several of EQ's. This being the only collection to feature "new" material -- even if the works were "new" only in a technical sense. Since the radio scripts were written by Dannay and Lee, this paperback collection is of interest to EQ collectors. Like all of the Mercury editions, though, it is difficult to find. (Click on the cover to read more...) 

Ten Days' Wonder (1948)

Ten days Wonder - Q.B.I.When Howard Van Horn staggered into Ellery Queen's apartment, his handsome face was pounded to a pulp, and the blood on his hands and clothes was not all his own. What was worse, he had no idea of where he had been for the past 19 days! Ellery liked Howard. He had no choice but to try to get to the bottom of the nightmare that was destroying Howard's mind and life. Little did he suspect that his own nightmare had just begun.

Another trip to Wrightsville, the first of the self-doubting tales, and another double-twist ending. Brilliant portrayals be it a little far-fetched.  Movie: Ten Days' Wonder. (Click on the cover to read more...) 

The Four of Hearts Mystery (1949)

Ellery Queen, the world-famed detective, is given a strange and exciting assignment. Hollywood's two most famous feuding families are to do a film together, even though they can't say "hello" without fighting. Ellery Queen is to be film consultant. He soon, however, has a much grimmer and more exacting task. For in the midst of a great welter of publicity, the decades old feud comes to an abrupt end, for the heads of the two warring families marry in spite of a series of mysterious warnings. Tragically, a few moments later, the two are murdered.
In their grief the children of the two find they don't hate each other after all, but are really in love. They plan a wedding and immediately they begin to receive the same ominous warnings. In an effort to save them, Ellery Queen sets off on a manhunt that proves to be the most trying experience of his career and will have your audience as taut as a piano wire. For the killer succeeds in trapping the young people an they are being suffocated as Ellery Queen races with time and death in his effort to save them. In one of the tensest finales your audience is ever going to sweat through, Ellery Queen achieves a spectacular rescue and captures the murderer.

Three acts; 9 men, 7 women. Royalty, $25.00 Price, 75c

Based on the real EQ novel and dramatized by William Rand (a pseudonym for William Roos). This play was published in 1949 by Dramatic Publishing Co. This edition is extremely rare to find.

Above right: The Warning Card!


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