The last in the four-part sports mysteries involves college football, and one donor’s obsession with his alma mater’s team.
This was also the story where Paula Paris brings up the subject of marriage: “Will you say such things when we’re married?” After Ellery chokes in visible shock, Paula backs off. “Oh, relax, pouted Miss Paris. “I was joking. What makes you think I’d marry a creature who studies cut throats and chases thieves for the enjoyment of it?”
“Horrible fate for a woman,” Mr. Queen hastened to agree. “Besides, I’m not good enough for you.” And so on. This would be the last story to feature Paula Paris.
The interesting thing about these sports stories is how the cultures around these sports remain. The avid interest in college football, although perhaps intensified, has remained enough the same to still be recognizable. Otherwise, the actions of the characters would have to have been explained in greater detail. Which raises the questions about why we view the actions of rabid fans as normal, without needing to delve further into their motivations. Why is a grown, financially successful man obsessed with his old college team, to the point that he not only has a special trophy room in his house, but he also encourages his own daughter to date the current quarterback? What is it about sports enthusiasm that allows otherwise sane people to do such odd things as ignore head injuries, excuse sexual abuse and accept post-game rioting?
Of course, these are questions that evade even the inquisitive mind of Ellery Queen.
Football has always bored me (I think the fans would like it much better if the 22 guys wielded chains and tire irons on the field), so I don’t recall much about this one.
Paula Paris . . . I always pictured actress Patricia Crowley (“Please Don’t Eat the Daisies” on TV) as Paula.