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A thesis on Frederic Dannay: Remi Schulz

Rémi won't mind me saying so but until October 2001 when I received the first of a series of emails from someone who described himself as "I am Rémi Schulz, Queen addict and French writer" I hadn't heard of him. Then I searched the net and came up with the following bits of information:
He was one of the speakers in a Georges Perec seminar where in "Quelle Queenerie la vie" he talked about the use of such "Perecian" devices as anagrams, lipograms, ... He set out to prove that such word games were a constant feature in the Queen novels: certainly they underlined the plot of the most successful novels. Then he sets out proving that several parallels exist between Perec work and those of Queen.

Rémi wrote Sous les Pans du bizarre a novel in which the investigator, librarian Pierre de Gondol concentrates on Virgilius', Raymond Roussel and Jean-Bernard Pouy works to find his solutions. Those are based on the verses and their numerical counter values. 
In his book Rémi uses the same techniques he allocates to Dannay. Rémi uses the technique in the book as an integral part of the plot. Dannay supposedly took it one step further than Schulz did. Although this technique underlines several aspects of the plot or indeed the way the Queen canon is conceived it is never explained in the books. 
Fred Dannay was very knowledgeable and several Queen plots have shown a similar line of thinking. The following thesis is based on an article ("Les Queen maudits") by Rémi Schulz, which could well be criticized in same way. It's just that these conclusions seem too contrived to the not-so-familiar reader, in a way that it puts them off. This brings back my personal viewpoint on the lack of success the Ellery-figure had in other crossovers: he is just too clever for his own good. There is only one thing more annoying than a person who thinks he knows all, ... that's a person who actually does know it all. The cousins were well aware of this and through the years they tried to make Ellery more fallible. The only TV-version which was a success had a somewhat absentminded Ellery who got it together at the right time. This absentmindedness brought him back to more human proportions audiences could better relate to.  My opinion on Rémi's reasoning? Anyone who does know the Queen-canon will find that his way of analysing has to be reckoned with. Yes, it seems contrived but the evidence is well founded and seems to fit. I wouldn't go as far as saying that everything was really intentional (I feel we tend to sometimes underestimate coincidence).  But If Dannay did come up with all of them than the merit lies in putting the finger on it, if not... it is an extremely good deduction worthy of a detective-novel and on both counts I found Rémi's reasoning to be a true delight either way. Make no mistake about it, all of the techniques are extremely clever and given the remarkable plots of the Queen novels one wouldn't put it past Dannay, the conclusion, however, I have " toned down".  I would not go as far as saying these discoveries illustrate Lee's part in the Queen-equation to be "nihil" but it could be possible that Dannay felt at some time this to be the case. Sure Fred's expertise is beyond question but I feel, as Rémi has found, there is more to the success of a novel than just to devise great plotlines ... 
During the making of this page Rémi seemed not content with the exact representation of his thoughts. He did start out to revise them and even put a page up partially in English,... so if you're up to it please visit
Ellery Queen, the King at his homepage to experience the full view.

Spoiler Warning: Some content revealed of  The Egyptian Cross Mystery,  Halfway House, The Four of Hearts, The Finishing Stroke, The Origin of Evil, The Player on the Other Side, On the Eighth Day and Double, Double.

Throughout the Queen-canon there are 'hidden' clues to be found which refer to the 'true' authorship of the novels or to the 'modus operandi' of the two cousins. To achieve this motif(s) were used... 
In the fall of  '36 it became obvious to the world who Ellery Queen and Barnaby Ross really were. Although both series produced excellent stories and several of those ideas have recycled by others, none of them surpassed the genre, with the one possible exception: 'Halfway House'. It is based on a wonderful premise and is told in a fluent style but leaves the reader hungering for more. The murderer is a second-rate figure and his motive trivial. Looking more closely the dénouement could almost be called a parody. Ellery dodges several 'false' lines of thinking, set out by the murderer, and in the end finds 9 'real' clues that all point to one culprit. None of these clues could be considered real prove and an extra element has to be added to expose the perpetrator. This "9+1-motif" will play an important part in at least three other Queen stories thereafter. It even at one time plays a leading role in the formal structure of a book.  Halfway House is divided into five chapters entitled: "The Tragedy", "The Trail", "The Trial", "The Trap" and "The Truth". Ten words all starting with the letter T, ten with a T. It brings back memories to the word (letter) play in The Greek Coffin Mystery where the first letter of the 34 chapters spelled "The Greek Coffin Mystery by Ellery Queen". But here the "9+1-motif" sets through in more than one way. Halfway House is Queen's tenth novel and it does break with the traditional 9 predecessors. The story takes place in Trenton (In the book Queen is the first to point out that the town was originally called Trent's Town... with two T's) It tells the story of the murder of Joseph Gimball, a bigamist, on June 1. 1935. In New York he's the partner of the wealthy Jessica Borden and in Philadelphia, as Joe Wilson, he lives with the beautiful Lucy Angell. Two families Angell & Borden (A & B): a new motif that he persists in using throughout this novel. A & B or 1 and 2 if we refer to their numerical place in the alphabet (alpha-beta). The interrogation of witnesses leads to the discovery of secret relations. E.g. between Andrea Borden and Bill Angell (AB and BA). The term more commonly used for such a device is a chiasm. The word finds its origin in the Greek letter "Chi", or "X" which has been called the Saint Andrews cross. Queen fans will immediately acknowledge that this is a name which is much used throughout his books in some form or another d'Andrew, Andrea, Anderson or even Ann Drew.
'X' of course is the Roman numeral ten!
Ellery comes into the story on June 1st because he knows Bill Angell who's celebrates his birthday on June 2nd. Again 1 and 2, but it doesn't stop there. It takes some research to find the real importance of June 1. 1935. Manfred B.Lee was born January 11. 1905 and Dannay October 20. 1905. The exact average of those two is June 1. 1905! Which would mean that June 1. could be considered the 30th birthday of the bicephal writer Ellery Queen. On this exact date in the story someone is murdered because he has the intention of disclosing the truth to both families

A small detour before we come to the startling finale. In 1958 the 30th Queen appeared following a 5-year silence. The Finishing Stroke was intended to be the last in the series. It contained several autobiographical elements and a writer, friend of Ellery who hides a twin. These twins are born on January 6. 1905, known as "Epiphany" or "Kings' night". Their father dies on January 11. (Lee's birthday). January 6. forms a Chiasm (6/1 - 1/6) with June 1. which leads to our conclusion that June.1 could be considered as the "Queens' night". Here the twin will reveal the truth on January 1. the 25th wedding anniversary of one of the twins. Until that very moment they shared the same fiancée. Which brings us to this remarkable description: On January 6. a man intends to reveal to his family that his is in fact two persons opposed to the intention of two men who reveal on June 1. they are in fact one.. 

Another important clue is given in The Origin of Evil (1952). In this story we find two jewelers Hill and Priam who set up their business in 1927 in
California. Subsequently, due to the large success they opened another shop in 1929 in New York. In 1935 a Priam disease reduces his part to a ceremonial function. It's Hill who pulls the string, does the all the work. Despite this fact his partner held his 'high' function of in the gallery...
Coincidence? The cousins first started thinking of The Roman Hat in 1927, got it published in 1929 and with Halfway House (1935) they reached a turning point.
Back to The Origin of Evil where Priam who wants to commit murder but can't. He sees himself obligated to take an accomplice, whom he manipulates without him knowing. In the end it's exactly this which finishes him of as he is forced to type a letter. This is done on a machine where the T has a flaw. The strange turn of phrases encourage Ellery to study the letter and notice the absence of this T, 20th letter in the alphabet. However if we study the original text one will find that there are in fact two more letters missing: the J (tenth letter) and the X (Roman numeral 10). We remind you that Dannay is born on 10/20/05 and put following facts forward:

  • the 10th Queen has 5 chapters all beginning with T the 20th letter in the alphabet
  • the 20th Queen Double, Double (1950) has 20 unnumbered parts (dates). 10 equals 'Double' 5 and 20 equals 'Double' 10. 
  • The 30th Queen has 20 numbered chapters and has as a hidden theme the alphabet, to be more specific the original alphabet which consist of ... 20 letters.

There is another trick up the sleeve of the Halfway House in 1936... 22 years on we get the book (The Finishing Stroke) on the twins (1 and 2) and the alphabet (A and B). The hidden alphabet is the clue to the riddle in the novel. The original alphabet is a series of pictograms. The first mystery consists of the series of gifts an ox, a house and a camel or according to the ancient alphabet Alef, Beth and Gimel, the origins of AB and C. When we looked up the meaning Gimel we found that 'Gimel carries what is within the House of Bet to what is outside the House'. Gimel comes and goes from and to. That is why Gimel means Camel - the Camel is the carrier, the energy, that comes and goes from one oasis to another in the desert. "Alef" resembles "Half", and "House" is the translation of Beth, and finally "way" sounds remarkable alike the Hebrew "and" resulting in "A and B" or "Alef weBeth". However no such reference is made in the books and both cousins were as much of Jewish origin in 1935 as they were in 1958. Prove of this can be found throughout their work.

Alef, Beth and Gimel... bring us back to Gimball, the bigamist who traveled up and down between A and B (Halfway House). The Gimball name is a variant of Kimball or Kimble, which immediately recalls "Fugitive" memories. Gimball meaning 'originated from twins', in Latin 'gemellus', in origin Indo-european as "gam" or meaning couple which still can be found in the Greek word "gamos" for marriage. Not only did the bigamist Gimball get the perfect name, but also The Finishing Stroke provided the evidence to link the letter Gimel with twins and marriage. If this evidence was indeed etymological correct is only secondary to the point made. Being that Queen himself tells us that it is the same Queen here who came up with the 1936 Gimball/twin bigamist.

We haven't even mentioned the father in law, the old Jasper Borden (Halfway House) and hemiplegic: "two bodies united, the one dead the other living".

This certainly wasn't the only time Dannay introduced themes into the novels. We would go as far as saying that the theme now betrays the master...
August 1938, the Japanese suppress China, the Nazis conquer Sudeten without firing a shot and
Ellery Queen publishes Four of Hearts. The covers sets the tone "Queen amongst the movie moguls- Queen discovers Hollywood, the moods of the stars, the enforced inactivity of great writers being paid to do nothing, the publicity campaigns, ... " We're clearly set for revenge...
The main body of the action takes place during one month around Sunday 17. , day of a double crime in an unmentioned month or year. Queen goes to great length to circumvent this: the previous month; on this day the following month, etc. however the days are mentioned Monday the 11th, Wednesday the 13th... 

It seems to me that much of the novel's strong points resemble those in Triangle d'Or by Leblanc (1917). In this novel the couple Patrice and Coralie are lured into a trap on April 14. 1895. Twenty years on fate, a little aided, makes their children to meet and leads them to the same trap by the same killer on 14 April 1915. In the Queen novel two Hollywood stars end a 20-year feud and plan to get married in a few days. On that Sunday 17. they are killed in very peculiar circumstances. It's up to their respective children Royle's son and Stuart's daughter to reconcile and plan to marry on Sunday 24. in the same conditions as their parents and therefore risk the same tragic death...
Patrice' father was killed on April 14. 1895, an Easter Sunday, when the resurrection of the 'Son' is remembered'. The first Sunday 17. preceding August 1938 was an Easter Sunday. We have to admit that both October 17. 1937 and January 17.1937 could fit the picture sadly nor the Four of Hearts nor its predecessor The Devil to Pay provide more clues...
There are other resemblances between Four of Hearts en Triangle d'Or. Patrice's father rises from the dead on the Eastern evening of 1895 (after officially been declared dead). He takes on a new identity but is murdered on the morning of April 4. 1915 ... again an Easter Sunday! He does somewhat haunt the characters in the story since the murderer takes on his identity. In the Queen novel it's Stuart, the grandfather who dies in the night between 16th and 17th, the night of the resurrection, his dead remains hidden and an accomplice of the murderer takes on his identity.
In the Leblanc-novel Arséne confuses the culprit by assuming doctor Géradec identity. While Ellery saves the young Royle-Stuart by playing doctor Erminius. In both cases the murderer commit suicide.
Which lead to the conclusion that Dannay was a great Leblanc admirer. Not only was Leblanc was included in EQMM or/and other Dannay edited anthologies I once saw a letter by Dannay rejecting an essay on the history of the detective story in which he states: '...I quarrel with you over your selection of Leblanc's The Teeth of the Tiger as the best Lupin novel. If by any chance you have never read Leblanc's 813, I suggest that you try to find a copy as soon as possible - - in my opinion it is an infinitely better book..." Furthermore we found that in at least two other Queen books the Easter dates were included of which the intentionality is beyond question... .

  • In On the Eighth Day (1964) Ellery goes back 20 years in a strange community led by a Master. Someone named Storicai is murdered, and the Master himself dies on a Friday only to rise again on Sunday April 9. 1944... an Easter Sunday completely in tune with the theme of the resurrection.
  • In The Last Woman in his Life (1970) a carpenter's son is murdered on Sunday (March 29.) at 3h 03 AM. It includes an abundance of references to the Holy Trinity. If in 1970 Easter Sunday was in deed March 29. , then important clue to this effect is found in the Queen-novel published 3 years earlier Face to Face which ends with an disordered wedding on Palm Sunday, a seemingly unimportant detail of the story. The Last Woman in his Life starts where Face to Face left off and allows us to identify the following Sunday when the murder takes place as an Easter Sunday...
These stories offer several points of resemblance with The Four of Hearts: the eight-day period, Hollywood, marriage and above all the dead on Easter Sunday. So why the elaborate use of Easter Sunday? I will follow a line of thinking which seems most productive, starting off with On the Eighth Day This novel mingles elements of Easter with characteristics of an in origin Jewish community who worship a Holy book. This book appears to be, no less than, Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. Hitler was born on April 20 1889, ... an Easter Saturday. Dannay was born on October 20, which in the "circle of the year" is the exact opposite to April 20. Dannay was born as Daniel Nathan, into a family of Polish-Jewish origins. In the Jewish calendar October 20. 1905 corresponds to 21 Tishri 5666, the day of Hosha'ana Rabba, 7th day of the 8 days of the Sukkoth. The Eight-day is identified with the day of Dead and Resurrection: on this day the reading of the Jewish Holy book, the Torah, is ended and restarted from the beginning.
The sole other exact reference to a date in the book is the date on which the Master buys his copy of Mein Kampf: April 8. 1939 a Easter Saturday

In the previous novel The Player on the Other Side Dannay places Ellery against a strange criminal who identifies with the "day of the Jews" and with a certain Nathaniel (Daniel Nathan?), born on 20 April (Hitler!)1924, an Easter Sunday as Ellery clearly indicated. 

There are more facts to underline the Dannay influence in e.g. The Four of Hearts. There is a gap of 20 years between Easter Sunday 1924 and 1944 from the Player on the Other Side. Again with On the Eighth Day, being 1964 or 20 years after. If the 20-year period from Triangle d'Or is reduced to one week in the Four of Hearts, the 20 years of hate remain a fact between the families of Royle and Stuart. Grandfather Stuart has as first name Tolland, he originality was being a teetoller or Tee-Totaller  

(Tee doubles the T of Total). Ellery quickly unmasks the fraud by letting him drink Ice tea (T). Again we find that sees Tolland resurrection on Sunday the 17. Tolland Stuart would die on Easter Sunday and ever since 1932 the letter T personifies crucifixion in the Queen universe. The murderer in the Egyptian Cross mystery beheaded his victims before he crucify them and subsequently signed in their blood with a T. An Egyptian Cross (also Tao cross or Saint Anthony's cross) is the symbol of eternal life or the Egyptian "Ankh". God's son slain by the evil and resurrected to rule the kingdom to be... The twentieth Chapter of this book is entitled "Two Triangles". 
Le Triangle d'Or has 20 chapters. Could Leblanc have thought of the 20-year gap between 1895 and 1915, of the T-crucifixions or the initials of the Triangle? On the whole it is clearly shown beyond reasonable doubt that Dannay paid much attention to the formal structure of 'his' novels.

The Four of Hearts has not 20 chapters as the two other stories but 23. There is a 23-year gap between 1915 and 1938 and the Easter Sunday of Leblanc and the one in Four of Hearts...These 23 chapters are divided in 4 parts following a 5-6-7-5 structure. Coincidence or not 1915 A.C. corresponds in the Jewish calendar with 5675. Finally Dannay has published his childhood memories under his own name (Daniel Nathan) in The Golden Summer (1953) It tells the story of a summer in 1915 (or 5765) since a Summer is made up out of three months with some good will we could call it a "Triangle d'Or".

Partially based on "Les Queen Maudits"  © 2002 Rémi Schulz - Kurt Sercu


Other articles by Rémi Schulz
(1) ellerYqueen, or why not a yod will be left away at Quarternité Feb 2. 2023

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