There were several reasons the cousins did not publish any prose fiction in 1940 and 1941.

Foremost is that they actually did: Their 1940 book was too similar, they felt, to a recently published Agatha Christie novel, and their next book, Calamity Town, was finished in 1941, but they withheld publication for a year.

Also, in November, 1940, Frederic Dannay was in a serious automobile accident, and unable to keep up his usual pace for a few weeks.

However, this was the period when the character Ellery Queen enjoyed a huge amount of popular success on the radio, and the franchise moved into new areas. A new film series was begun in 1940 ,Whitman’s Big Little Book series for children published an adaptation of the radio episode, “The Last Man Club,” and the anthology comic book title Crackajack Funnies began publishing monthly ten-page stories featuring Ellery Queen with issue #23 (May, 1940).

There would be seven EQ films made during this period:Ellery Queen Master Detective poster

Ellery Queen, Master Detective (1940)
Ellery Queen and the Murder Ring (1941)
Ellery Queen’s Penthouse Mystery (1941)
Ellery Queen and The Perfect Crime (1941)

The cast of these three included:
Ellery Queen: Ralph Bellamy
Nikki Porter: Margaret Lindsay
Inspector Queen: Charley Grapewin
Sgt. Velie: James Burke
Dr. James Rogers: Michael Whalen


Enemy Agents Meet Ellery Queen - 1sht 1942 600Legendary actress Anna May Wong had a featured role in The Penthouse Mystery.
Charles Lane portrayed Doc Prouty in Ellery Queen and the Perfect Crime and A Close Call for Ellery Queen.

For the next three, the part of Ellery was played by William Gargan:

A Desperate Chance for Ellery Queen (1942)
A Close Call for Ellery Queen (1942)
Enemy Agents Meet Ellery Queen (1942)

All of these movies can be viewed, with a “free” account, here.  Watch if you must.

Ellery Queen Master Detective cover


Also, novelizations of three movies were published: Ellery Queen, Master The Perfect Crime coverDetective (1941), The Penthouse Mystery (1941), and The Perfect Crime (1942).


Ellery Queens Mystery Magazine #1

If this wasn’t enough, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, originally a quarterly, later a monthly, publication began in late 1941, with Frederic Dannay as editor in chief, as position he would hold until 1982. The magazine remains in print.



MeanLast Man Club Big Little Bookwhile, Whitman’s long-running Big Little Books series published two Ellery Queen stories. The first was the adaptation of the radio show, “The Last Man Club,” inThe Last Man Club cover 1940, followed by “The Murdered Millionaire” in1942. Both, as a all Big Little Books were, had manMurdered Millionaire Big Little Booky illustrations to go with the horrid text. In 1968, Pyramid Books reprinted the horrid texts, without the illustrations, as The Last Man Club. They also reprinted the movie novelizations The Perfect Crime and The Penthouse Mystery.



Green Turtle Mystery cover

In 1941, the cousins approved of the publication of a series of books written by “Ellery Queen, Junior.” Three authors (Samuel Duff McCoy, Frank Belknap Long, and JaRed Chipmunk Mystery covermes Holding) would write a total of eleven books in the series between 1941 and 1966. The protagonist was Djuna, the Queen’s “houseboy” from the early novels, who now solved crimes with his friend, Ben Franklin, Jr. The titles mostly followed a convention of The [color] [animal] Mystery, with two exceptions in the early 1960s. The first was The Black Dog Mystery (1941), which was followed by The Golden Eagle Mystery (1942), The Green Turtle Mystery (1944), The Red Chipmunk Mystery (1946), and so on.


One interesting piece of trivia: for at least the Green Turtle Mystery, the illustrations were by Jerry Robinson, perhaps most famous for creating the world’s first comic book super-villain, The Joker.

Green Turtle Mystery spot illo

Jerry Robinson illustration for The Green Turtle Mystery, 1944.


The Ellery Queen comics ran in Crackajack Funnies from issue #23 (May 1940) through #42 (December, 1941). Each month featured a new 10 page story, generally based on earlier prose stories.  Scans of Crackajack can be found here, and here, but just for fun, here is the first Ellery Queen story from #23:

Crackajack CoverCrackajack Story 1


Crackajack Story 2

Crackajack Story 3



Crackajack Story 4Crackajack Story 5


Crackajack Story 6




Crackajack Story 7

Crackajack Story 8Crackajack Story 9

Crackajack Story 10














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