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Ellery Queen Locked Room Titles


Ellery_Queen_NYWTSEllery Queen is unique in not only being the pen name of the authors, but also the name of the detective who featured in this long series. Ellery Queen was actually written  by two American cousins from Brooklyn, New York, Daniel Nathan, alias Frederic Dannay (1905 – 1982) and Emanuel Benjamin Lepofsky, alias Manfred Bennington Lee (1905 – 1971), who wrote, edited, and anthologized detective fiction for over forty years. The fictional Ellery Queen created by Dannay and Lee is a mystery writer and amateur detective who helps his father, a New York City police inspector, solve baffling murders. During the 1930s and much of the 1940s, that detective-hero was possibly the best known American fictional detective. Many movies, radio shows, and television shows were based on the Ellery Queen novels.

The two writers were also responsible for founding and developing the ‘Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine’, generally considered to be the most influential English-language crime fiction magazines of the last sixty-five years. They were also prominent historians in the field, editing numerous collections and anthologies of short stories. Their massive anthology created for The Modern Library, ‘101 Years’ Entertainment: The Great Detective Stories, 1841–1941′, is still viewed as a classic authority on the early years of crime fiction. Under the Ellery Queen pseudonym, the cousins were given the Grand Master Award for achievements in the field of the mystery story by the Mystery Writers of America in 1961.

The fictional Ellery Queen was the hero of more than 30 novels and several short story collections, written by Dannay and Lee and published under the Ellery Queen pseudonym.

According to critic Otto Penzler, “As an anthologist, Ellery Queen is without peer, his taste unequalled. As a bibliographer and a collector of the detective short story, Queen is, again, a historical personage. Indeed, Ellery Queen clearly is, after Poe, the most important American in mystery fiction.”

Although Frederic Dannay outlived his cousin by ten years, the Ellery Queen name died with Manfred Lee. The last Ellery Queen novel, ‘A Fine and Private Place’, was published in 1971, the year of Lee’s death.

More on Dannay & Lee

More on Ellery Queen (detective)   Gadetection   Grost


Ellery Queen Locked Room Novels


American GunThe American Gun Mystery (1933)
Ellery Queen Mystery Series

 

 

Best Review
****

Available in used paperback, ebook, and audible editions.

Book  eBook  Audible   Amazon.ca

Note: Lots of guns – but no murder weapon!

In the arena of a vast New York sports palace, a man lay dead, murdered during the opening scene of a spectacular rodeo. Can you, as Ellery Queen does, follow these clues to the murderer? – A dead man’s belt. What was the meaning of the deep ridges in the leather? An ivory handled revolver. How could the “feel” of the gun-butt provide a clue? The broken locks on a green box. Did the way the locks had been bent point the way to murder? These are the big points. It was a murder witnessed by 20,000 people, but only Ellery solved it. Do you think you can, too? (Original Cover)

Lots of guns – but no .25 caliber – the size of the bullet fired from the murder weapon. The missing weapon has everyone searching – with little luck!

More on ‘The American Gun Mystery’


chinese orangeThe Chinese Orange Mystery (1934)
Ellery Queen Mystery Series

 

 

Locked Room Review
****

Available in paperback, ebook, and audible editions.

Book  eBook  Audible  Movie   Amazon.ca

Note: A very odd murder scene!

A wealthy publisher and collector of precious stones and Chinese postage stamps lives in a luxurious hotel suite that doubles as his office for business that is not related to Mandarin Press. The hotel is also the centre for the comings and goings of Donald Kirk’s staff, his relatives, and his friends. The mystery begins when an odd, anonymous man arrives and refuses to state his business to Kirk’s clerk, James Osborne. He is led into an  anteroom with a bowl of fruit (including tangerines, also known as Chinese oranges) to await the publisher’s arrival.

However, when Kirk finally returns and is advised that the man is still waiting, the door connecting to the office is found to be locked, and hiding a truly bizarre crime scene. The victim’s skull his broken, his clothing is reversed, back to front, all the furnishings of the room have been turned backwards — and two African spears have been inserted between the body and its clothing. The only other entrance to the room was more or less observed, and it seems quite impossible that anyone could have entered from that direction and had sufficient time to arrange this fantastic scene. The mystery is made more complex by some valuable jewelry and stamps, the publisher’s business dealings and romantic affaires, and an apparent connection with “backwardness” for every character. Ellery Queen must first sort through all the motives and discard the lies and misdirections, before he finally arrives at an amazing solution to this confounding puzzle.

More on ‘The Chinese Orange Mystery’


Lamp God

The Lamp of God (1936)
Ellery Queen Mystery Series

 

 

Best Review
****

Available only in used paperback or short story collections. 

Book   New Adventures of Ellery Queen Version

Note: No locked room – just a vanishing mansion!

Not always considered to be a locked room puzzle, but most of the elements are in place.

Ellery Queen is asked by a lawyer friend to help a pretty young heiress. They meet her, along with an unpleasant physician who is an old friend of her family, just as she disembarks in New York from a liner returning from England. Unfortunately, it is a rather appalling homecoming. Her eccentric father, from whom she has been separated since her early years, has just died – days before she could be reunited with her family and inherit her father’s fabled hoard of gold. The group drives for several hours to reach an ugly and sinister Victorian house called ‘The Black House’ just as night falls.

‘The Black House’, where her father died, is completely uninhabitable. The new arrivals meets the strange family, then bed down in a small stone house next door. The surprise arrives the next morning – the Black House has simply vanished as though it never existed. No locked room, but a missing mansion is clearly an impossible twist that is worthy of inclusion as an impossible crime and an excellent example of the art of illusion and misdirection. Ellery must move past the Gothic atmosphere and the suggestions of black magic in order to arrive at a logical solution to the odd disappearance of both Black House and the fabled hoard of gold.  

Published both as a separate novella and as an entry in the short story collection ‘The New Adventures of Ellery Queen’. (edited from the Wikipedia summary – see link below)

More on ‘The Lamp of God’


Door Between

The Door Between (1937)
Ellery Queen Mystery Series

 

 

Best Review
****

Available in paperback and audible editions. eBook is currently unavailable.

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Note: An impossible stabbing in Greenwich Village

Karen Leith is an award-winning novelist whose fictional life and works bear a resemblance to Pearl S. Buck – she was raised in Japan and writes novels about that land, but lives in Manhattan surrounded by Japanese customs, art and furnishings. She is engaged to marry world-famous cancer researcher Dr. John MacClure. One day, the doctor’s daughter, Eva, finds Karen with her throat cut in the writer’s Greenwich Village home. Eva has no motive to kill Karen, but the evidence she finds at the scene suggests – even in her own mind – that no one else could have done it. The investigation by Ellery Queen confronts this puzzle and  turns up startling information about a long-vanished relative of Karen Leith. Queen pierces the veil of circumstantial evidence and finds out not only the method of the crime but, most importantly, its motivation. (edited from the Wikipedia summary – see link below)

More on ‘The Door Between’


Queen - Master TecEllery Queen: Master Detective (1941)
Ellery Queen Mystery Series

 

 

Best Review
**

Available only in rare used hardcover, and the original film!

Book  Ellery Queen Movie Collection – DVD

Note: Give this one a pass?

It goes something like this! You write a really good locked room mystery – titled ‘The Door Between’ – then you sell the movie rights to Hollywood! But Hollywood doesn’t like the title and wants to mangle the original plot! The result is a 1940 movie ‘Ellery Queen, Master Detective’. So far, so good! Then people start going to the bookshops looking for the now unrecognizable book that inspired the film! So, what do you do? You adapt the mangled movie script into a new book for junior Ellery Queen fans! Better to just read ‘The Door Between”!


king deadThe King is Dead (1952)
Ellery Queen Mystery Series

 

 

Best Review
*****

Available in paperback, hardcover, ebook, and audible editions.

Book  eBook  Audible  Amazon.ca

Note: Best or worst – or just different?

Some think this is one of the worst (bad review) Queen novels, while others put it at the top of the heap (good review) ! The best answer is probably that this was an experimental work that clearly has it flaws. (See Best Review by Mike Grost) Either way, this currently out of print title is a must read for every locked room fan.

Armed men invade the Queen apartment. At their head is Abel Bendigo, brother of one of the world’s most powerful men, King Bendigo of Bodigen Arms, an industrial monster whose tentacles embrace the planet. Someone is threatening to kill King, and Ellery must undertake to save his hated life. Virtual prisoners, Ellery and his father Inspector Queen are whisked away in a private plane to a mysterious island “somewhere in the Atlantic.” In the frightening atmosphere of a concentration camp, with industrial slavery, and brute militarism, Ellery finds himself matching wits with the fascinating American-born King, handsome, cynical, an absolute monarch; with King’s disturbing wife, Karla, from a European royal family; with Abel, King’s Prime Minister, of acute intelligence; and with Judah, the saturnine little third brother with an inexhaustible thirst for expensive cognac. Ellery soon discovers that the threat originated within the King’s family, and once confronted, Judah readily admits that he is the guilty party, before announcing that he will shoot King at exactly midnight on June 21. At that time, King is locked in a hermetically sealed room, accompanied only by his wife; Judah is under Ellery’s observation and armed only with an empty gun. At midnight, Judah lifts the empty gun and fires – and King falls back, wounded with a bullet. Karla falls under suspicion but no gun is found on her person or anywhere in the room; similarly, Judah cannot have had a bullet in his possession, having been searched repeatedly. When Ellery learns that the Bendigo family is originally from his familiar haunt of Wrightsville, he travels there for an investigation of the King’s early life. Upon his return to the private island, he solves the crime, initiating a series of deadly reactions.  (edited from the Wikipedia summary – see link below)

More on ‘The King is Dead’


Room to Die2A Room To Die In (1965)
Ellery Queen ghost writer: Jack Vance
Ellery Queen Mystery Series

 

Best Review
****

Available in used paperback, ebook, and audible editions.

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Note: Dangerous questions!

How could a man have been murdered when he was found alone in his study, a gun in his hand, and the door locked from the inside? It had to be suicide, the police figured. Although there was no suicide note, there was a letter proving conclusively that Roland Nelson, over the last several months, was being blackmailed. But to his daughter, Ann, whom he had seen only rarely since he had left her mother when Ann was a baby, there were unanswered questions. She was convinced that her father could never have killed himself. Before she found the answers, two people were brutally garroted with a wire, one of them in her own apartment. Could all the answers be found before the killer silenced her, too?


Ellery Queen Locked Room Short Stories: 
Note: All the original Ellery Queen short story collections are due to be re-released by August 2015. Will update the page as soon as possible!


Big lizard LR mysteriesThe House of Haunts (1935)
Detective: Ellery Queen
Collection: Black Lizard Big Book of Locked Room Mysteries

 

Best Review
****

Available in paperback and ebook editions.

Book  eBook   Amazon.ca

Note: Early version of the ‘Lamp of God’

The original story that later became the novelette, ‘The Lamp of God’, which was included in ‘The New Adventures of Ellery Queen’ (1940).  It was then later re-released as a ‘dime novel’ book in 1950. 


new adventures EQThe Adventure of The House of Darkness (1935)
Detective: Ellery Queen
Collection: The New Adventures of Ellery Queen

 

Best Review
****

Available in used paperback, ebook, and audible editions.

Book  eBook  Amazon.ca

Note: A horror in Joyland!

Ellery Queen finds himself in charge of the young rambunctious lad, Djuna. What better way to spend his time than at the newly opened amusement park called Joyland. The park designer’s pride and joy is his “House of Darkness”; a haunted house that reminds Queen of the set of Dr. Caligari. But what terror does the darkness hold? Ellery Queen and Djuna are about to find out!

Mike Grost.com notes: “The House of Darkness” (1935) and “The Treasure Hunt” (1935) show EQ’s skill with elaborate, surrealistic backgrounds for his fiction. Both stories are also good mystery puzzles, not too realistic, but imaginative in their plotting. 


new adventures EQThe Lamp of God (1935)
Detective: Ellery Queen
Collection: The New Adventures of Ellery Queen (1940)

 

Best Review
****

Available in used paperback, ebook, and audible editions.

Book  eBook  Amazon.ca

Note: Same story once again! See ‘The Lamp of God’ in novels, and the earlier version of this title ‘The House of Haunts’ (1935) (above)


Misadventures_SHThe Disappearance of Mr. James Phillimore (1944)
Detective: Ellery Queen
Collection: The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes

Best Review
****

Available only in a rare used hardcover, and online at Internet Archive.

Book  Internet Archives

Note: A star studded collection of Sherlock parodies!

A collection of Sherlock parodies, edited by Ellery Queen, who also wrote this story about an identical New York case to the one briefly mentioned in “The Problem of Thor Bridge’. A man returns to his house for his forgotten umbrella, only to completely disappear, even though the house is under close observation. Other contributing authors to this collection, include Agatha Christie, Anthony Berkeley, Carolyn Wells, Anthony Boucher, Vincent Starett, Robert Barr, Maurice LeBlanc, and Stuart Palmer.


Queen BestThe Dauphin’s Doll (1948)
Detective: Ellery Queen 
Collection: The Best of Ellery Queen: Four Decades of Stories from the Mystery Masters; Calendar of Crime

Best Review
****

Available only in used hardcover edition.

Book

Note: An impossible jewel heist!

A Christmas story filled with orphan children, and thief that wants to steal their presents. An heiress with a famous doll collection has died, and left the proceeds of the sale to a fund to assist orphans. The dolls are not very valuable, but a huge diamond attached to one is worth a fortune. The crook gives fair notice that he will steal it on Christmas Eve in a busy department store and it is stolen from under the noses of New York’s finest. Ellery must figure out who stole the diamond and save the orphan’s – at least for the moment! The Dauphin’s Doll (1948) is based on a 1943 radio play.

Mike Grost.com:  “Impossible Disappearances: Among the best of these works are the radio play “The Man Who Could Double the Size of Diamonds” (1940) and the Calendar story “The Dauphin’s Doll” (1948; based on a 1943 radio play). These works are both about seemingly impossible jewel robberies, and share a distinct family resemblance. Among the various kinds of impossible crimes, EQ specialized in tales of Impossible Disappearances.”


Queen BestThe Three Widows (1950)
Detective: Ellery Queen
Collections: The Best of Ellery Queen: Four Decades of Stories from the Mystery Masters; Q.B.I. Queen’s Bureau of Investigation

Best Review
****

Available only in used hardcover edition.

Book

Note: Who killed the evil stepmother?

Penelope and Lyra, after their husbands died, moved back in with their dad, Theodore Hood. After his death, their stepmother feared that (under the terms of the will) they had a great deal of motive to murder her, so she took extraordinary precautions to thwart them. Nevertheless, somehow, someone still managed to poison her in a most impossible fashion.


QBI EQDouble Your Money (1951)
Detective: Ellery Queen
Collection: Q.B.I. Queen’s Bureau of Investigation

 

Best Review
****

Available in used paperback, ebook, and audible editions.

Book  eBook  Amazon.ca

Note: Disappearing Swindlers?

MikeGrost.com: People also evaporate in EQ’s impossible crime tales, such as the radio play “The Disappearing Magician” (1940), the radio play known variously as “The Adventure of Mr. Short and Mr. Long” / “The Disappearance of Mr. James Phillimore” (broadcast January 1943, published 1944), and the Q.B.I. tale “Double Your Money” (1951). Both of these latter two stories show some resemblances: both deal with the vanishing of a crooked financier, who is pulling the same swindle in both works, and both crimes’ explanations have some features in common, as well as considerable differences in details. Both versions make terrific reading.” The financier disappears from a locked and guarded office.


QBI EQThe Mysterious Black Ledger (1952)
Detective: Ellery Queen
Collection: Q.B.I. Queen’s Bureau of Investigation

 

Best Review
****

Available in used paperback, ebook, and audible editions.

Book  eBook  Amazon.ca

Note: A document mysteriously disappears

The impossible disappearance of a Black Ledger, which is an important list of drug traffickers, leads Ellery on a chase from Washington to New York. 


QED EQObject Lesson (1955)
Detective: Ellery Queen
Collection: QED: Queen’s Experiments in Detection; Handle With Care: Frightening Stories. Ed. by Joan Kahn

No Review
****

Available in used paperback, hardcover, and ebook editions.

Book  eBook  Amazon.ca

Note: A lot of effort for $7 – even in 1955?

Seven dollars is stolen from a classroom – even though everything and everyone is searched.

MikeGrost.com: “These impossible disappearance stories intergrade with another EQ specialty, the exhaustive search. For example, stories about searches for the disappearing will in The Greek Coffin Mystery (1932), the vanishing gun in The American Gun Mystery (1933), the stolen gems in “The Trojan Horse” (1939), “The Treasure Hunt” (1935) and “The Adventure of Napoleon’s Razor” (1939), and the hidden money in “Miser’s Gold” (1950) and “Object Lesson” (1955) are halfway between the Impossible Disappearance and the search tale. The disappearance of these missing objects does not at first look impossible, but as they elude the most intensive searches, their vanishing looks more and more like a sheer impossibility. EQ’s searches tend to be fascinating reading. They are extraordinarily surrealistic. They clearly fascinated EQ himself: see his comments on the search in Gaboriau’s early tale, “A Disappearance”, in Queen’s Quorum.”


Queen BestSnowball in July (1956)
Detective: Ellery Queen
Collections: The Best of Ellery Queen: Four Decades of Stories from the Mystery Masters; Q.B.I. Queen’s Bureau of Investigation

Best Review
****

Available only in used hardcover edition.

Book

Note: There must be an easier way!

Diamond Jim Grady, specializing in jewel robbery at gunpoint, has had Lizbet as his girl for 2 years, 10 months – an eternity, in the circles where he moves. But when she puts on weight, he picks up a new girl. Lizbet, being nobody’s fool, stages a vanishing act before Grady can clean up any loose ends. The method used involves a whole train disappearing from a section of track that is under close surveillance. 


Queen's FullE = Murder (1961)
Detective: Ellery Queen
Collection: Queen’s Full

 

Best Review
***

Available only in used paperback editions.

Book

Note: Not one of Queen’s best!

Amazon Review By Michele L. Worley: “Dying clue + locked room; by far the weakest of the 3 such stories in this book, but mercifully short. Ellery, delivering a lecture at Bethesda University, is collected by the Chancellor after his talk, but not for dinner. Professor Agon, one of the world’s top physicists, failed to telephone the President of the United States tonight from his secure laboratory on campus. The President interrupted General Carter’s meeting with the Chancellor, and they in turn have brought Ellery to the laboratory, to find Agon’s corpse seated at his desk, his memopad bearing only a single cryptic letter.”

“On the plus side, when the General asks why Agon didn’t just write the killer’s name, Ellery has the grace not only to state the classic reply that the killer might have returned and destroyed it, but to add that this reply never satisfied him. On the minus side, 1) Agon had a phone ‘right there’, and the characters don’t jump on ‘that’ point the way they should, and 2) the “clue” ranks right down there with Rex Stout’s “The Zero Clue” from ‘Three Men Out’. Just when I thought EQ had got the hang of this dying clue thing, too.”


Janus PuzzleThe Case of His Headless Highness (1973)
Detective: Ellery Queen
Collection: Jigsaw Puzzle

 

Best Review
****

Available only with the jigsaw puzzle!

Puzzle  

Note: Two great reviews – for a jigsaw puzzle???

So many good mysteries to review! It is amazing what catches the attention of reviewers – and what doesn’t!

More on ‘The Case of His Headless Highness’


Ellery Queen Locked Room Plays & Radio Plays: 


Mike Grost on Ellery Queen Radio Plays


Ellery-Queen-adThe Adventure of The Frightened Star (1942)
Detective: Ellery Queen
Collection: Radio Play, EQMM Spring 1942; Aired on Ellery Queen Mysteries Episode 12 – 07-14-40 (Audio File N/A)

Available only in original Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

EQMM Spring 1942

Note: Information required!

Robert Adey, Locked Room Murders: “Death by shooting in a locked bungalow.”


Ellery-Queen-adThe Adventure of The Meanest Man in The World (1942)
Detective: Ellery Queen
Collection: Radio play, EQMM July 1942; Aired on Ellery Queen Mysteries Episode 17 – 08-18-40 (Audio File N/A)

No Review

Available only in original Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

EQMM July 1942

Note: Information required!

Robert Adey, Locked Room Murders: “Death by stabbing in a room under constant observation.”


Ellery-Queen-adThe Adventure of The Man Who Could Double The Size of Diamonds (1943)
Detective: Ellery Queen
Collection, radio play EQMM May 1943; Aired on Ellery Queen Mysteries, Episode 2 – 05-05-40 (Audio File N/A)

Available only in original Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

EQMM May 1943

Note:  Another jewel heist caper!

The impossible theft of diamonds from a strong room, when the only occupant of the room has been throughly searched.


Ellery-Queen-adThe Adventure of The One Legged Man (1943)
Detective: Ellery Queen
Collection: Radio Play, EQMM November 1943; Aired on Ellery Queen Mysteries, Episode 47  02-25-44 (Audio File N/A)

No Review

Available only in original Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

EQMM November 1943

Note: An amazing one-legged man!

Tracks are left in the snow by a one legged man, apparently walking about without a stick or a crutch, even inside an area guarded by an electric fence.


Ellery-Queen-adThe Adventure of The Dead Man’s Cavern (1944)
Detective: Ellery Queen
Collection: Radio Play, Aired on Ellery Queen Mysteries, Episode 28 04-13-44, Audio File available.

Available only as an audio file from the radio show ‘The Adventures of Ellery Queen’ 

Internet Archives – Episode 23

Note: A cave with a door?

Death by strangulation in a cave fitted with a door to which only the victim had a key and there was a patch of soft mud outside the door, which bore only the victim’s footprints. The only other exit was a small window at the rear that was completely inaccessible from every outside direction.


Ellery Queen Bibliography


Locked Room 101: The Masters


The Locked Room Mystery home



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