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Remi Schulz Strikes Again! (Part 2: MWMW)

Read the first part here! (both taken from Rémi's blog Quaternité)

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

The Fourth Side of the Triangle -  cover Penguin edition 1969, cover design by Peter FluckFace to Face - cover PenguinThe Last Woman in his Life - cover SignetA Fine and Private Place - cover Signet


In my previous article on the "queentessence" of the final four "true Queen" novels I plunged into the works of Frederic Dannay, and this enabled me to offer a possible interpretation of that tetralogy. If you have not done so, you should therefore read the previous article before proceeding with this one.

I'll start by naming the four novels in question, which for simplicity sake, I refer to as Triangle, Face,
Woman, and Place. Each of these works have at least three
characteristics in common:

  • First, the lover or spouse of the victim is investigated. Four possible combinations are apparent, the lover of a (female)fashion designer, the lover of a gigolo husband of an all but forgotten singer, the latest playboy conquest and the lover of a young girl married to an aging multimillionaire.
  • Second, the victim has a mania linked to language. This mania is connected to a riddle, which occupies both the investigators and readers.
  • Third, in each novel a 3+1 motif is present.

The most remarkable commonality among these books would probably be the continuity between Face and Woman, the first ending where the second starts. On the same day in the same location. Ellery and his father have accompanied their friend Burke to the airport at the end of Face. Then in the airport restaurant, at the beginning of Woman they meet John Benedict who will be murdered the following Sunday, which is in fact, Easter Sunday, since Face ends the day after Palm Sunday.

Editorial remark: The novels actually overlap since the final sentences in Face are repeated in Woman.

Taking a closer look at the dates leads to other observations.

  • In Triangle, Sheila Grey is murdered on Wednesday September 14. 1963. But there wasn't such a date in 1963, and, in fact, Wednesday September 14 is a real date only in 1960 and 1966 (considering the years most near '63). The clue to the murder is revealed the following New Year's night that is, on January 1, 1964, when the novel ends.
  • The following novel, Face, also begins on January 1. The actual year isn't mentioned, but elementary calculations reveals the year to be 1966: We know that Gloria was married for 6 years the previous December, we also know that her marriage took place in 1959. It is also repeatedly mentioned in the novel that the murder takes place the previous Wednesday, the 30th (at 23:50). However December 30. 1965 was a Thursday (it was a Wednesday in 1964). The clue to the riddle is given on Palm Sunday, when Ellery accuses the wrong suspect and a pseudo-marriage takes place. For the sake of the story this marriage was not evident; the novel concludes the following day, in principal April 4, 1966 (Or April 12, in 1965).
    Although Woman begins on the same day it is referred to as March 23! If, in fact, Dannay was aware of this discordance, it leaves two possible explanations, neither of which excludes the other:
    • the closest years in which Sundays fell on March 29 were 1964 and 1970, the year when Woman was published, and both of those Sundays were them Easter Sunday. Queen therefore offered his readers from 1970, who hadn't read Face the possibility of joining in the Trinitarian game surrounding the death of John III, son of a carpenter. The year wherein Woman takes place isn't mentioned, however in the book an allusion is made on Philippe Rothe's Portnoy's Complaint which was published in 1969.
    • 1964 gives an extraordinary coherence to the final Queen period, with the avenger of the 1963 novel born on Easter Sunday, 1924. The 1964 novel covers the 1944 Easter Week, and the 1965 quaternity centers on Easter Week of 1964. I've also noticed in earlier Queen novels the recurrence of the number 20, which I've interpreted as a Dannay signature. Dannay was born October 20. 1905. One can imagine that the eldest of the Queens, cousin Lee, born January 11. 1905 was conceived during the Holy Week in 1904. And the clue to the crime in Place one has to find 9 months earlier.

Woman concludes on Monday June 8. when Ellery discovers the homosexuality of Al Marsh, married one day earlier.

  • Place takes place over several years, 1962, 1966, and mainly 1967, essentially in 9 months. It would seem most significant to me if one could find the date June 8. linked to an "inversion".

    This calls for an in-depth examination. On June 9. billionaire Nino Importuna discusses his affairs with his secretary Peter Ennis, and suddenly is infuriated when he discovers someone has been handling his books in his library. It was Peter who, the day before (June 8.), noticed that certain books were shelved upside down, and he himself put them 'the right way'  up.
    This constitutes for the greater part the riddle linked to the 'nines mania' of Nino. It's resolution in the following October doesn't bring much news: Nino arranged in this row certain nine-related books, such as The Magna Carta written in en 1215 (9x9x5). Other books dominated by the number six, e.g. The Foundation of Byzant that took place in 666 B.C., Nino turned upside down in order to transform the sixes into nines.
    I don't believe it to be a coincidence when Dannay places this episode on Friday June 9 or 6/9 in the English notation. The date is a palindrome that can be read identically when turned 180°. The shabby connotation of the English notation could make sense when, later that day (6/9) after her husband left Virginia invites Peter to make love on the Nino's table, that formerly belonged to one of the Medicis.

    Did Nino listen to Jimi Hendrix, who, in 1967 recorded 'If 6 was 9'? Unfortunately the most watched YouTube version was added last June 10. (one day after 6/9). I know the song from the soundtrack album of Easy Rider (1969).

The early Ellery Queen books were characterized by an extreme decency, sometimes bordering on prudishness. One book comes to mind, Ten Days' Wonder. There the criminal motive is adultery, which is a consequence of the books theme, the breach of the 10 commandments.
Then along comes the 4 last Queen novels, with intrigues openly sexual, exploring impotence, womanizing, homosexuality, perversion... Enlightenment came to me on the night October23rd and 24th, when it dawned on me that the initials of the 4 culprits in the 4 final novels are MWMW.  These are symmetrical initials in most fonts. The letters are also the initials for the words MAN and WOMAN.
This is in tune with a remark I made earlier: Woman and Place are exactly parallel, with reversed sexes, to Triangle and Face. Which, by the way, gave me the first clue as to the existence of a quaternity, without completely understanding the full sense of it all. I don't pretend to understand everything, but the playfulness with the MW, seemed to me especially fulfilling, and could explain multiple details.
As an example, that 6/9 sexual episode on the Medici (with a M)table  between Virgin and P. Ennis... I'm not making this up! Before their relationship started, Peter called Virginia Whyte Importuna "Virgin", and she confided to him that he couldn't have put it better, and that she had found a pet name for her husband, Impo (standing for impotent, "powerless"). While 'P.Ennis', is "Nino"'s right hand index and middle finger are merged... - detail from English Penguin coverfound as such in the book. The sexual practices of Peter and Virgin are not specified to the reader. The reader nevertheless has the right to suppose that Virgin still is, in fact, a virgin, since her husband has a natural sexual practice with her (This is also not specified, but the reader can go on speculating based on several details including the fact that the only actual particularity of nines for "Nino", is that his right hand index and middle finger are merged into a "ninth finger").
Another example of Dannay's subtlety, ENNIS, the ideal culprit, (incriminated by the real murderer) is a anagram of NINES. And should we not also note the initials VI of Virginia Importuna correspond to 6 in Roman numerals?
Nino Importuna
pretends to have been born on 9/9/99, while his birth certificate shows him actually to have been born May 16. 1898. This would mean that on 6/9 (1967), he just would have turned 69 ...

The 4 MWMW murderers are:
Dane McKell
Rebecca West
Al Aubrey Marsh
Wallace Ryerson Whyte

I'd like to note that the last name appears but two times in the novel. The three first words and the three last words, a trick attributed to Lee, but I'm not so sure...
Other famous bearers of the Christian name Aubrey are without a doubt Aubrey Beardsley, again a homosexual.

Editorial remark : According to Brittanica Encyclopedia Beardsley was not homosexual,  but by associating with Wilde and other known homosexuals of the time Aubrey's work is associated with homosexuality.

As for Ryerson... the most well known Ryerson was a Methodist minister, MM?
If the family names of the four culprits give us the initials MWMW, their Christian names give us the acrostic DRAW. The capitals M and W are made from 4 lines that connect 5 points, which might be represented by this drawing to the right. The different points of the symmetrical letters M and W in the chronology of the novels are connected by lines that intersect in a point of symmetry that might correspond to the Monday of the Easter Week (Monday, with an M!), pivotal moment in the tetralogy and possible 4/4.
I'd like to remind you that the return of Queen in The Player On The Other Side gave us a distribution in time and space of the initials of the murderers, a divine tetragram, resulting in the initial of his second identity, Nathaniel.
The same structure applies on the quaternity MWMW that yields a symmetrical diagram along two axes, horizontal and vertical, possibly reflecting the sex of the victims in the order of the tetralogy, two women followed by two men.

In any event the MW clue seems to apply to at least the first two novels of this last period of Queen novels. For instance, the first identity of the murderer in The Player On The Other Side was Walt, and the corresponding victim to the letter W in the tetragram is Myra. When Myra received her card with the letter W on it, the sleuths asked themselves if it might be an inversed M.

The murder in On The Eighth Day... only raises interest through the trap Ellery falls into. He is tricked by false clues left behind by "The Teacher". In this way El-Roï ("God who Sees" as "The Teacher" calls Ellery) discovers the truth too late, and is chiefly responsible for the death of 'The Teacher' on Easter Friday 1944.
It's revealed to Ellery, by an old Quenanian, that "The Teacher" was formerly known as Willy. Easter Sunday, when Ellery leaves Quenan, a plane crashes close to the community. The pilot succeeds in escaping with the help of his parachute and lands at the feet of Ellery. The pilot's name is Manuel Aquina, and he is the spitting image of 'the Teacher', when he was approximately 30...
In this way W(illy) resurrects into M(anuel). Furthermore it's also conceivable that Emmanuel ("God with Us", name of the Messiah according to Isaias) was shortened to MANuel in reference to the Son of Man.

Editorial remark: "God with Us" or "Gott mit Uns" was the slogan the Wehrmacht or German Airforce wore on their belt buckles during WWII.
In Woman, the last word John III stammered on Easter Night was HOMO, likely a parody on "Ecce homo" which condemned Jesus. John couldn't use the word man, afraid to falsely accuse his fiancée, Laura Manzoni...

Editorial remark: Latin for Behold the Man, a phrase uttered by Pontius Pilate at the trial of Christ.

W isn't a "double V" in English (as is the case in the French pronunciation), but "double U", or 'double you'.

The grandparents of both cousins were named Wallerstein, and Dannay's complete name at birth was Daniel Wallerstein Nathan.

Editorial remark: As Fred's sons have attested after Fred passed away a birth certificate was found in the name of David Nathan. Rémi doesn't mention his sources and also states "Walerstein" - sic-

A wonderful play on the MW theme was the following part of the tetralogy. A Fine And Private Place, is a quotation from Andrew Marvell,with an M! "The Grave is a Fine And Private Place...". Too which George Whalley, with a W!, two centuries later, added "...the womb also". I remind you that the novel tells the story of criminal plan conceived during the first amorous rendezvous between P. Ennis and Virgin, on December 9. 1966, that came to completion 9 months later on September 9. 1967. The context of the original citation relates to the futility of virginity, which when left to weirdo's can profit from an honest penis:

Andrew Marvell
Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song: then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust.
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.

Editorial remark: From Andrew Marvell's To His Coy Mistress: full poem


In my preceding column I pronounced the plots of the tetralogy to be feeble when seen in comparison to the wonderful recurrences of the more successful Queens. But on re-reading the four novels I am more indulgent, since the whole of the works represent an extraordinary coherence, where the irregular details all find a meaning in their proper immediate context.
As an example, the Wednesdays of the murders in Women, that do not correspond to the years in
Triangle and Face, are Wednesday, with a W, day of Odin.

Editorial remark: Odin AKA Wodan

The turning point for identical situations in Woman and Place, inversed sex, is a Monday, with a M, the day of the moon.
And the murders of the men also took place on the same day, a Sunday. Since the autopsy report showed Nino dead after midnight and not at 9:09 Saturday evening,
he died on Sunday, the day of the sun, or the Lord (according to what country you live in).

Furthermore multiple echoes from inside the tetralogy, or even the last Queen period
, leave the suspicion of a connection to earlier periods. The two first novels of '63 en '64 are already linked, suggesting an even more dazzling complexity. I'll give you but one example, which I have known for some time but still cannot interpret.
Face, on "a mid February Sunday" the weapon is discovered in a hatbox, which leads to the immediate arrest and subsequent trial of Lorette. Knowing that December 30 was a Wednesday, it's easy to establish that this Sunday was February 14. How better to describe this day than mid-February?
February 14 is Valentine's Day, and this cannot leave a passionate Queen addict indifferent, since the Queen "main course"
Calamity Town (1942) is given metre by holidays. On New Year's Eve 1941 a woman is poisoned, in the place of Nora so it seems. On Valentine's Day they discover in a hatbox several clues which lead to the immediate arrest and trial of the suspect, the man of Nora, who herself will die on Easter while giving birth.

I've already noted that the outline of the first Wrightsville investigation is exactly copied in the third,
Ten Day's Wonder, with the inversion of sex: X take revenge on his unfaithful spouse Y by murdering the rival in such a way that this murder will be seen as a failed attempt from Y against X...
I now recognize these to be a foreshadowing of the inversions of sexes in the tetralogy.

We now need to reference Queenian numerology, opening even more unfathomable depths.
The Book of Numbers of CheiroIn
Place, Ellery notes that Nino, baptized Tullio, has chosen this new Christian name for it's resemblance to nine, and because the numerology of the name, according to the Book of Numbers of Cheiro (right), was
N+I+N+O = 5+1+5+7 = 18, which reduces to 9.
From my own examination of the Book of Numbers, I've learned that John Lennon also was Cheiro adept, and that he shared with Nino a nine mania (JOHN = 1+7+5+5 = 18...), to the point that nothing was decided by him without first performing many numerical calculations. Cheiro was born William John Warner, in 1866 (also the year the Ku-Klux-Klan was founded, one of the books Nino turned over to obtain 9981), and died aged 69 years, just as Nino
If Nino couldn't have listened to The Fab Four's White Album of '68 including Revolution 9, inspired by Lennon's beliefs, then Dannay could have done so many times, when he had enough of If 6 was 9.

According to Cheiro's system, MWMW = 4+6+4+6 = 20, the number I've already interpreted as Dannay's signature.

Nino's murder in September is preceded by that of his brother Julio in May, after which a button marked with the initials MI was found. This seemed to accuse the other brother, Marco. But,
according to Cheiro, MI is also a 4+1 motive. Cheiro used numbers derived from corresponding Hebraistic letters, MI or mem-yod, meaning in Hebrew the pronoun "who ?". The principal red herring for the murder of the brothers Importuna is the mysterious ME, or 4+5 (as is DN the initials for Daniel Nathan), or mem-he (ME), meaning in Hebrew the pronoun "what?". Mi and Me, "who?" and "what?", forming an essential couple masculin-feminin in Jewish mysticism. Me has an alibi for the murder of Nino, he was in Israél...

The detectives
investigating the Julio murder found that the button-with-the-initials-of-the-murderer was out of fashion since Conan Doyle. Seemingly oblivious to the fact that Ellery was caught into a trap set by 'The Teacher'. 'The Teacher' had left one of his buttons, marked with a N, at the crime scene in Quenan. The N being a Holy letter for the Quenanites, for its value of 50 (relating to the belief of the Essenians with regards to the letter noun).

Editorial remark: The Essenes or Essenians are members of a small Jewish religious order, originating in the 2nd century B.C. 7 was believed to be the perfect number and 9 rules all life and electrical energy (The significance of the number nine).

In the beginning of 2000 I wrote a booklet Quelle Queenerie La Vie, of which a copy can be found at the Bilipo (Bibliothéque des Littératures Policiéres) in Paris. Since I can't access more information today, which could confirm my choices, I refrain from commenting on the three false "real Queens" of 1966-1968-1969 (A Study in Terror, The House of Brass and Cop Out), since I don't recognize the The German edition explicitly states Cop Out to be the celebration of 40 years of Ellery Queen detectives ((As did the original publication).hand of Dannay in them.
Cop out apparently was written by Lee. I've seen a Queenian structure in this hard-boiled novel (a gangster story in the style of Burnett) which takes place in one week and 7 chapters, and I can remark that the initials of it's hero Wes Malone are... WM. Lee must have known the depths of the complexity his cousin seemed to enjoy, and perhaps spoofed them with a WM in a novel that had nothing intellectual.

Above right: The German edition explicitly states Cop Out to be the celebration of 40 years of Ellery Queen detectives ((As did the original publication).

If in 2000 I hadn't discovered the quaternity that I am aware of today, with the symmetrical woman-man themes. I did remark then as to common themes in the three first parts, and found all the numerical similarities, such as the 3-9 between the murders of John in Woman and Nino in Place.
I concluded the booklet with a remarkable discovery - the relation that unified the 4 titles, the 77 letters in the titles of the original version. 77 is also the numerical value of ELLERY according to the "normal" alphabet,  (from A=1 until Z=26).
The novels have structures closely related to each theme, in, respectively, 4-4-3-9 parts, or in total 20 parts. '20' is associated to the birth of Dannay (and to MWMW according to Cheiro).
One particular novel Face, has it's parts subdivided into 46 numbered sections. If we take these subdivisions into account, the tetralogy splits up in 4-46-3-9 sections, giving a grand total of 62. In our normal alphabet where 77 = ELLERY (and 77 = the total of the letters in the titles), QUEEN also results in 17+21+5+5+14 = 62 (and 62 = the total of sections in the 4 novels).

Footnote 29/10 : When re-working all considerations of this piece in my head, something has struck me as not being a coincidence :
- A
Fine And Private Place, a delirium of nines, was originally published in 1971, a multiple of 9;
- It's the 9th "real Queen" of the final Queen period, which had produced a hard cover edition each year from 1963 until 1971;
- Dannay and Lee, like Ellery
himself, were born in 1905, celebrated in 1971 their  66th Birthday, which Nino would have reversed into 99.
Perhaps there could have been a real complicity between the cousins for this last period. Perhaps what I call the false "real Queen" could have been necessary substitutes demarcating the tetralogy which began in 1965, the 60th Birthday of Dannay and Lee.
Lee would have had the more immediate privilege to write the title marking the 40th Birthday since Queen began, in 1929, and the collaboration with Dannay was signed by the initials of the new heroes, WM in 1969.
If one suspects that the tetralogy was written with the intention, from the start, to let them end in a deluge of nines in 1971, it is no longer absurd to calculate the values for each of the 4 titles according to Cheiro, being :

The Fourth Side of the Triangle  = 112
Face to Face                              = 45
The Last Woman in his Life         = 80
A Fine and Private Place
            = 77    
                                          Total 314
Which can be divided in
112+ 45 = 157 and
80 + 77 = 157 for each MW part... This is curious since 314 brings to mind the circle, the symbol of totality, already present in Ellery's  4th investigation from 1932, The Greek Coffin Mystery, partially focusing on coming and goings in Room 314 of the Benedict Hotel.
We better leave it at that.

The New Man LogoFootnote 29/10 evening: I noticed I already talked about the WM palindrome ambigram in 69 in my piece dated 5/10 :
The name Newman, for me, is associated with the palindrome logo, which reads identically when turned 180 degrees. The clothesline New Man, designed by Raymond Loewy in '69 (again a palindrome), then struck me profoundly at the time.


Remi Schulz (made by Gilles Esposito-Farese) Used by permission

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

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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