Not quite Wrightsville, yet, and not quite a radio drama, but getting there. The Adventure of the Invisible Lover, once again originally appearing in Mystery (September, 1934), has the basic Ellery Queen short story formula down: Ellery arrives, meets a beautiful woman, solves a household murder, with a kiss, actual or implied, from said beautiful woman. However, with hindsight, we can see the cousins pushing the walls of their structures.
Once again, Ellery gets out of the city. Usually he goes as far as Long Island (the notable exception, of course, was the cross-country chase in The Egyptian Cross Mystery). His previous stories, The Two-Headed Dog and The Bearded Lady, saw him on Martha’s Vineyard and Long Island. This time, he is in a small town in upstate New York. In The Tragedy of Z, Drury Lane had ended up in Leeds; this time, Ellery lands in the town of Corsica. For a man-about-town, he sure does seem to get out of town a lot!
This is also the most dialogue-driven tale to date. More than the previous stories, I could see this staged, with three scenes: the boarding house drawing room, the crime scene, and the cemetery, character actors easily filling the roles of the wheelchair bound grand dame, the veteran who takes every opportunity to remind everyone that he was injured in The War, the small town coroner, the small town attorney, the boarding house proprietor and his beautiful daughter. Not surprisingly, then, the cousins were entering the phase of their careers where their characters would grace the silver screen.
The story itself? There certainly is one. Ellery is called by the friends of an idealized young country lawyer accused of murder. (The opening description of the lawyer, by itself, could launch several academic careers in what it portrays as a desired lifestyle and personality type of the era). Anyway, Ellery arrives, finds a discrepancy in the murder details, researches a theory by illegally exhuming a grave in the dead of night, the murderer is caught, and everyone’s favorite lawyer is freed. There is the subtle message, too, of men behaving violently for the effect ions of a woman, even if the woman is oblivious of his desire. Hence the “invisible lover,” of the title, and the original title, Four Men Loved a Woman.
Marvelous atmosphere in the graveyard, and the first tale in which the avowedly atheistic Ellery says aloud, “There is a God.”