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Remi Schulz Strikes Again! (Part 1: Queentessence)

This is the second time we're featuring an article written by Rémi. This time Rémi offers his thoughts on the four last true Ellery Queen novels written. As was the case with his previous article you have to bear in mind the following: Rémi's articles are not for the faint-hearted. Not only you will have to work your way through a substantial amount of text. But also you will have to follow a specialized line of reasoning which will assume that you have in-depth knowledge of all of the Queen novels his refers to.  On his blog Quaternite Rémi describes himself as a lover of oddities especially those with regards to numerical, golden ratio or quaternity matters.

Let's start with quaternity. Webster's defines the word as follows:
1. The number four.
2. The union of four in one, as of four persons; - analogous to the
    theological term trinity.
(Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by C. & G. Merriam Co.)
This immediately explains Remi's focus on four books.

One of the other reasons I warn that all of this is not for the faint-hearted is that Remi's line of reasoning and conclusions, while worthwhile, might put the reader off. All of this can be a bit like reading a science-fiction novel in which one doesn't agree with the premise: when this is the case there is simply no enjoying the story. A final word of warning, as stated previously, Rémi is also convinced that the bulk of thinking behind EQ stories was done by Dannay. Differences of opinion concerning the roles of Dannay and Lee are actually still very much alive. Even Mike Nevins, according to his own words at the Centenary in 2005, intends to set things straighter with a work that will clearly shed a more favorable light on Manfred's Lee part in the EQ success. But that's another story... here we go with first of a two part journey. Enjoy!

Spoiler Warning: Content revealed including plotlines, names of murderers and solutions of The Four of Hearts, The Finishing Stroke, The Origin of Evil, The Player on the Other Side, On the Eighth Day, Double, Double, The Fourth Side of The Triangle,  Face to Face, The Last Woman in His Life and A Fine And Private Place


Last October 20. the 103rd anniversary of the birth of Frederic Dannay,  seemed to be a good occasion to write a few words on the person who provided the soul of the penname Ellery Queen.
In 1928 Dannay and his cousin Manfred Lee wrote the first Ellery Queen novel, won a price and set off a long career with many phases, marked by quaternity, certainly in the final phase. Although there are 4 remarkable example well before this phase e.g.:
In the first phase, 1928-1935, Dannay and Lee worked in parallel with the Queen books writing 4 detective novels under another pseudonym: Barnaby Ross.
In the second phase, 1936-41, The Four of Hearts (1938) was perhaps their first novel using an Easter theme.
The following phase 1942-58, we can subdivide into the novels that take place in Wrightsville and those that do not. The fourth investigation in Wrightsville is Double, double (1950), which as I explained before, was a festival Dubbelspel - Swedish edition, Bonniersof 4's and D's (the fourth letter). It's Ellery Queen's 20th adventure, in homage to the author (Dannay) born on a "double double" date: 20/10/05 or 05/10/20 in English writing. The novel consists of 20 chapters, all of which utilize dates as titles, the first being Tuesday April 4., a 4/4 which back in 1950 was the Tuesday in the Easter Week. Looking at the art on a Swedish edition of the novel we can see it magnifies the first quaternity by showing the first four words corresponding with the first words of a rhyme, which caused the murderer to undertake 4 murders, with 4 Wrightsville buildings in the background.

Above right: Dubbelspel - Swedish edition, Bonniers

In the Dannay-Lee association, Dannay would first produce a detailed plot in a long synopsis that Lee would subsequently fleshout into a full-fledged novel. Working closely together in the period 1920-30, the cousins ended up hating each other, as evidenced in many letters. This culminating in them not being able to work together, which eventually led to the 26th and widely considered the last Queen novel in 1958 The Finishing Stroke, a splendid final story where the alphabetical order lies behind the crime, since it's 26th and the final letter is Z, from the Hebrew 'zayin', the "dagger" thrown into the heart of John Sebastian. But is the culprit the amiable poet and Ellery's friend or his demonical twin?

I'll ask you, now, to bear with me and to have confidence in my analysis. Lee believed it was a pity to drop the prestigious Queen name, and, since he had now virtually ceased writiing books with Dannay, he allowed ghostwriters to write novels that were published under the Queen- or Barnaby Ross moniker. From 1961 until 1972 34 such novels were published, these did not owe anything to Lee or to Dannay. They also didn't have anything to do with the adventures of Ellery Queen (only 6 were translated into French).
I think this wasn't to the liking of Dannay, certainly since several of these stories were prepublished in magazines with themes bordering pornography. As a result Dannay decided to take up writing again, this time calling in several authors to take up Lee's role. After 4 novels from '"Ellery Queen" without Ellery Queen, 1963 saw the publication of a "true" Queen novel with all the beloved heroes: The Player On The Other Side. Therein a certain Nathaniel (Dannay's birth name was Daniel Nathan, from which he forged his new name Dannay) gets resurrected to kill off, on a York Square chess-board, one by one the 4 cousins who have deprived him of his heritage.
(Editorial remark: actually it was David Nathan but the point remains valid, although Fred himself later used Daniel Nathan)

The locale for the action is the perfect mandala, where the 4 cousins live surrounded by a garden which had in it's center a monument in homage to Nathaniel.

The locale for the action is the perfect mandala, where the 4 cousins live surrounded by a garden which had in it's center a monument in homage to Nathaniel.

The cover of a German edition in fact spoiled the plot from the start, ...
The cover of a German edition in fact spoiled the plot from the start (left), revealing the fact that the mysterious cards the victims received correspond with the map of the Square and with the divine tetra gram JHWH, a gimmick already .... an error rectified in a Taiwanese/Chinese cover ...used in Death and The Compass by Borges, and in a previous novel by Queen. I should also note that the order of the cards on the cover is wrong, an error rectified in a Taiwanese/Chinese cover (right). By following the order by which the murders were committed we get an "N", it's center corresponding with the monument in the centre of York Park.

In 1964 On The Eighth Day was published. As I pointed out earlier, it takes place during 8 days in the Easter week of 1944, which effectively makes the time setting 4/4/44.
If this story culiminates on an Easter Sunday, 20 years earlier, our Nathaniel (in The Player On The Other Side) was born (again) 20 years earlier, that is April 20. 1924. Ellery Queen reveals very explicitly that this was an Easter Sunday. In doing so however he doesn't convey that that day is also the birthday for Adolf Hitler, the author of the Holy Book in And On The Eighth Day. Nor does he reveal the fact that this date, in the circle of the year, is the exact opposite of the birthday of a certain Daniel Nathan (October 20.).

The Fourth Side Of The Triangle (1965) seems to me to be the first part of a neat quaternity of 'real Queens' from 1967, 1970 and 1971.
By now the more knowledgeable of the Queen reading public knows there are "faux Queens", wherethe figure of Ellery doesn't even appear in them. These "faux Queens" were published immediately in paperback, whereas "true Queens", with Ellery as a character, always had at least one hard cover edition. Things got even more complicated in 1966 with the publication of A Study In Terror, a novelization of the movie by James Hill where Sherlock Holmes pursues Jack The Ripper. Ellery appears in this Queenian adaptation (written by Paul Fairman) and adds a second solution.

Editorial remark: Frederic Dannay and Derek Ford (1933-1995) got the writing credits for the movie. The "Holmes" story in the movie was rewritten by Paul W. Fairman and then, in the book, Ellery Queen added a second solution that trumps the great Holmes!

Following this work, in 1968 The House of Brass appeared, a new case for Ellery, signed, Queen. However no synopsis exists to this day, as is the case with other 'true Queens', signed Dannay. If Dannay never commented on the rumors concerning ghostwriters, which surrounded several Queens in circulation, with this title it perhaps got the better of him, since he somewhat disavowed it's authorship by declaring "Mr. Lee and myself reached a deadlock in this novel as to what we'd wanted to express."

Thus, the quaternity in question are four novels, which have at least three characteristics in common :

  • The lover or spouse of the victim is investigated. Four possible combinations are apparent, the lover of a (female)fashion designer, lover of a gigolo husband of an all but forgotten singer, latest playboy conquest and the lover of a young girl married to an aging multimillionaire.
  • The victim has a mania linked to language, this mania is connected to a riddle, which occupies both the investigators and readers.
  • A 3+1 motif.
  • In additions the novels have two to two parallelisms which I won't develop here.
  • The solutions to each case are so blatantly deceiving (when compared to the great Queens) I have no problem in unveiling them here.

In "The Fourth Side Of The Triangle" , fashion designer Sheila Grey is murdered...First part, 1965 : In The Fourth Side Of The Triangle , fashion designer Sheila Grey is murdered (right). She collected lovers, and gave each one of her annual collections the anagram name of a lover. Thus the name of her first lover, Elisha, provides the title for the first collection Lady Sheila; then came Allen, Hurt, Ronald, Claudel (!), Hamlet (!!), each of which respectively gave the ladies Nella, Ruth, Lorna D., Dulcela, Thelma... .
The son of a well-known family, Dane is one of the first suspects, soon followed by his father who is accused, judged and acquitted. Next up is his mother... In the end it's the discovery of the name of the final collection that Sheila was preparing, Lady Edna, which led to the arrest of the first suspect, Dane, as the real murderer... .
Followers of Jung will be reminded of an aphorism by Maria the Jewess: "One becomes two, two becomes three, and out of the third comes the one as the fourth." The Queenian may relate this curious affair of a lady "feminizing" her lovers to the original pseudonyms chosen by the young cousins, being of good family, not knowing the connotation of the word "queen" as "gay", in certain slang. The two young men learned the hard way after staying in many hotels, on tour promoting their books, under their penname Queen. But by that time it was to late to change their pseudonym.
The word which was most widely used to depict homosexuals was "queer" or "bizarre", and I believe this resemblance between these argotic synonyms "queen" and "queer" inspired Dannay to title his 1952 short story "My Queer Dean!", there a tendency of a senior (dean) to shift the sound of words leads to the accusation of Morgan instead of Gorman (the English word spoonerism, "a voluntary slip of the tongue" derives from the name of a Oxford dean, Spooner).
If it was judicious to suggest that Nathaniel killing his cousins had anything to do with Dan-iel Nathan, the first name of Dannay, it should also be remembered that DANe actually gives us the missing letters. This Dane kills the one he loved, who only took him as lover during the  time of the Lady Edna collection...

Second part, 1967 : Face to Face, which actually translates perfectly into French, only in English the letters FACE which make out the dying message left by a singer are also notes. More precisely the notes that are found 'in-between' the regular notes on a musical staff, a clear invitation to go and read 'between the lines' of his will in search for a message written in invisible ink.

The cover of the Italian edition reveals this enigma from the start, hardly a fair enigma in countries where the do-re-mi system is widely used... .The cover of the Italian edition reveals this enigma from the start, hardly a fair enigma in countries where the do-re-mi system is widely used... (right).
indicates she fears being murdered by her husband, but he has an alibi. The investigators then question his mistresses, convinced one of them took it upon herself to deliver the fatal blow on his behalf.
The quaternary is present here not only with the mystery of the four letters FACE, but also with the 4 parts of the novel itself, as was the case with the previous novel. The 4 parts of the novel are: profile, half face, three-quarter face and face. As was the case with The Fourth Side of The Triangle this is a perfect illustration of the passage from 3 to 4.

Third part, 1970: The Last Woman In His Life, aka The Fourth Woman according to the Danish title. Opulent John Benedict holds a reunion with his 3 ex-wives only to announce he's to be remarried, which consequently  means the testamentary provisions, which granted substantial revenues to each of them, will be changed. He is murdered before these modifications are made, and before having revealed the newly chosen one.
is prone to stammering, and especially when he's emotionally moved, he is unable to pronounce the letter "r".  The solution he finds sends the investigators in the wrong direction, and they end up taking a long time to find "the fourth woman"As a result, when dying, with just enough strength left to reach Ellery on the telephone, this awful problem  precludes him for naming the assassin's identity. His lawyer makes a "coming out" by announcing his love for John, which he rejects with so much dislike that the lawyer goes out of control. John can barely utter one or a few syllables, but somehow must accuse Al Aubrey Marsh. This is a problem since his three ex-wives are Alice, Audrey and Marcia. He could also say it was a lawyer or even a single man, if it weren't for his new fiancée who is named Laura Manzoni... . The solution he finds sends the investigators in the wrong direction, and they end up taking a long time to find "the fourth woman".
It's left to the more astute reader to deduce why John couldn't use a more common term "queer", which he would have pronounced as "quee". This would have been susceptible of confusion with Queen. We should also note  the fact that certain editions claimed this to be Ellery's queerest case... .

Fourth part, 1971 : A Fine and Private Place. The multi-millionaire Nino Importuna is marked by the number 9. Born on the 9/9/(18)99, he lives on the ninth floor of his house number 99 in 99th Street, signs contracts the ninth of every month. He marries 21 years old Virginia on the day of his 63th birthday, 9/9/1962. It is explicitly stated he is three times the age of Frenzy of Nines. Detail from the Hamlyn edition shows a September with a Wednesday 9. Which for the 1960 decade only leaves 1964 or 1970... (Editorial remark)his younger wife.
As with the singer in Face to face, in his new will there is a 5 years period during which the spouse cannot claim an inheritance, and yet again the testator is murdered just when the 5 years have past (on 9/9 at 9:09).
Since Virginia doesn't seem to have been able to commit the murder herself, the investigation focuses on finding her lover.

Above right: Frenzy of Nines. Detail from the Hamlyn edition shows a September with a Wednesday 9. Which for the 1960 decade only leaves 1964 or 1970... (Editorial remark)

Three years have past between the publications of Face to face and The Last Woman in His Life. I don't want to guess as to the reason why, but I can only imagine that Dannay knew well, by conceiving Face to face, that the next Queen would be a "real Queen", which would make it well understood that the "faux Queen" would no longer abuse readers of great discernment. It seems to me that Dannay had an idea to erase these mistakes. The Last Woman In His Life starts where Face to face, ends: in a café (anagram  face) of the airport where Inspector Queen and his son have accompanied a departing friend. So anecdotical it seems, this day is the day after Palm Sunday, ...which would make this the Monday of the Holy Week.
It isn't anecdotical that in The Last Woman In His Life, no allusion is made to the Holy week. The Queens meet their friend John in that café and he invites them to his house in the countryside. It is on the night between Saturday to Sunday that John III, son of a carpenter, is murdered in the night of the resurrection (On the third day "et resurrexit tertia die"...) at 3h03 by three blows of a sculpture of 3 monkeys, foreshadowing the assassination of Nino the 9/9 at 9h09, with 9 blows of a sculpture in the form of the number 9.
Thus has the Queenian quaternity the Monday of the Holy week as pivotical moment. On the other hand the other two real "real Queens" of the final period, concern the murders connected to Nathaniel, born Easter Sunday 1924 and the Holy Week of 1944. My final remark is that the date of the murder of John III, March 29. is but compatible with a plausible Easter Sunday in 1964 or 1970, The first being more acceptable since after chronological reading of the 4 novels the first takes place in 1963 and the last explicitly in 1967.
The Tragedy of Errors - Q.B.I.Incidentally, the cousins seem to have reconciled not long before Lee's death in 1971, and he surely would have taken up his role of co-author for the two last titles of 1970 and 1971. But it is difficult to be sure of anything in this relationship where the lie ruled for a long time.
just finished with the synopsis for a new novel when Lee died, The Tragedy of Errors, was left in that state after the death of his cousin. Since then the text has been published, and at first sight it doesn't seem linked to the themes of the six preceding "real Queens"".

After having
given the current state of my research on the last Queen period, of which the essence goes back nearly 10 years, here some remarks on the echoes of my recently discovered "quaternitairies"

  • I have shown, in my first text on the blog on the Queen of 1964, that Double, Double, took place during the Holy Week of 1944, specifically 4/4/44. The Tuesday of the Holy Week, an essential date in the life of Jung, corresponds exactly with 4/5's of his life, as reached on 6/6/61. I'm now more convinced that the Monday in the Holy Week plays a pivotical part in the Queen Quaternity, a Monday which, in Face to Face takes place explicitly in 1966, on a date date would have been 4/4/66 (read part 2 where I explore discordances in the dates).

  • In my second text on the blog I explained that the initials DEAN seemed significant to me, the reader will now appreciate why.

  • Research into the Quintet(t) de Giroud and Altman have taken me  into letters written in fifths or fourths, but I can't remember at what point I'm indebted to Queen for having revived my interest in that field, thanks to his wonderful play on thirds FACE

  • I'll attribute my intuition to 4/4/44 to the Detail from Dutch hardcover depicting the Lady Norma collection in "Fourth Side of TheTriangle".earlier immediate discovery of the body of Ruth Roman on 9/9/99, while having somewhat forgotten 9/9/99 of Nino Importuna from the final part of the quaternity. RUTH ROMAN also has an immediate echo with the first part, where Lady RUTH is the name of the collection conceived by Sheila after her adventure with HURT, while Dane tried to reject the suspicions that had befallen on the driver RAMON, by falsifying a document, by which the new collection would be named Lady NORMA (having established Ramon's innocence, Ellery wondered if Sheila hadn't known a Roman).

    Above right: Detail from Dutch hardcover depicting the Lady Norma collection in Fourth Side of TheTriangle.

Whilst plunging into these Queen works I found a great confirmation of the finesse of this quaternity, where the four assassins have the initials MWMW, which corresponds with the evidence of Man-Woman, but that's something I'll explore in the following piece.

continued here ...

based on "Queentessence" &   © Original text 2008 Rémi Schulz
translation © Dale C.AndrewsWest 87th Irregular -  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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