This light-hearted tale of murder on Martha’s Vineyard has a mistake in the title. The old inn-keeper wanted to name the place after Cerberus, multi-headed guardian of the underworld, but his daughter thought the name too obscure, so she insisted on naming it The Two-Headed Dog, under the mistaken belief that Cerberus has two heads. Of course, Cerberus does have two heads, but that is only the beginning: he usually has multiples of that for heads.
So, this story harkens to the Canterbury Tales, the Decameron, Tales of a Wayside Tavern, as a Dusenberg-driving traveller stops at the inn for the night, and hears a story told around the fire. This story is about an excitement which happened three months prior, about a jewel thief renting a cabin. The cops rush in, the thief and famous diamond remain missing, but weird sounds are heard whenever that cabin is rented. It’s a good yarn, and everyone goes to bed. Not everyone survives the night.
Fortunately, the Dusenberg-driving traveller is Ellery Queen. And, even more fortunately, this short story, originally published in Mystery in the June, 1934 issue, stands up fairly well, one of the best Ellery Queen stories up to this point. The only real mystery is: why does Ellery Queen drive from New York City to Newport via Martha’s Vineyard?