Now we go back, temporarily, to the longer short story format. Needing to develop more month-themed stories for the upcoming Calendar of Crime collection, the cousins wrote five, which were published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine from April through August, 1951. The first was “The Adventure of the Emperor’s Dice,” based on the script for the radio show which originally aired on March 31, 1940.

This is a hilarious, well-written, enjoyable, page-turning and memorable read. Really, one of the most intriguing, and funny tale to date. Nikki Porter and the Inspector are put to good use, and it absolves  the essential similar plots  of “The Adventure of the Three R’s,” and “The Adventure of the Dead Cat.”

The first scene is wonderful. Ellery, Nikki and the Inspector are picked up at a train station on a dark and stormy night, chauffeured by one of their hosts to a secluded mansion. He begins telling them of a murder which occurred in the house. Slowly, it becomes clear that the victim was their host’s father, and one of the offspring the culprit. “Mark Haggard laughed again. The lightning flashed, and for a photographic instant they saw his lumpish eyes, the blueness about the black stubble, the dance of his hands on the wheel.” And they drive on.

The home environment was not a settled one:

“Malvina! Where the devil are Bessie and Connors?”

“They left. They were going to kill me. I chased them away with a kitchen knife and they ran away.”

Of course, Ellery looks at the three suspects, determines which one is being framed, and discovers the truth to be none of the above!

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