So, that’s it. The novels, short stories and media empire created by Frederic Danny and Manfred Lee, dba Ellery Queen.
It’s been fun reading the novels and short stories in chronological order, and writing this blog to keep me on task. Thanks for joining in.
I was going to make 10 best lists, but found I needed to be a little bit more fluid with the numbers, since there were some novels I just could not delete from such a recommendation list.
So, here we go.
My favorite was actually the second Drury Lane mystery, by Barnaby Ross, The Tragedy of Y (1932). By favorite, I mean, the one which traumatized itself into my memory the most. Drury Lane’s Last Case (1933) is also a great read.
The next favorite 16 Ellery Queen novels, in chronological order, are:
The Egyptian Cross Mystery (1932)
The American Gun Mystery (1933)
The Spanish Cape Mystery (1935)
Halfway House (1936)
The Four of Hearts (1938)
Calamity Town (1942)
There Was An Old Woman (1943)
The Murderer is a Fox (1945)
Ten Days Wonder (1948)
Cat of Many Tails (1949)
Double, Double (1950)
The Glass Village (1954)
The Finishing Stroke (1958)
And on the Eighth Day (1964)
Cop Out (1969)
And from that list, my personal favorite novels are Cat of Many Tails and Calamity Town.
Moving on to short stories, here are my top nine:
“The Glass-domed Clock” (Mystery League, 1933)
“The Hanging Acrobat” (Mystery, 1934)
“The Mad Tea Party” (Redbook, 1934)
“The Telltale Bottle” (EQMM, 1946)
“The Ides of Michael Magoon” (EQMM, 1947)
“The Emperor’s Dice” (EQMM, 1951)
“GI Story” (EQMM, 1954)
“Terror Town” (Argosy, 1956)
“The Case Against Carroll” (Argosy, 1958)
I also enjoyed Frederic Dannay’s The Golden Summer (1953).
Favorite motion picture? No. Just, no.
Other fave? The 1975-1976 television series.
The Ellery Queen mysteries were all very much products of their times. Lee and Dannay were able to change with their times, which kept the character of Ellery Queen alive for so long in so many formats. The problem, though, is determine which Ellery Queen you mean when talking about the character. Other fictional detectives, Lord Peter Wimsey, Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot come to mind, all are well-defined. But they were well-defined within the well-defined strictures of British society. Ellery was free to change with the times, which made him pliable enough for several platforms, but hard from a distance to define. But, really, we don’t need to define Queen: he stands as a testament to the changes in popular culture, neither timeless nor of a specific time, but of many particular times and platforms. His stories fit equally well in magazines as diverse as Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Muscular Development & Playboy. The cousins, in the end, were talented writers and clever businessmen who succeeded in working together at something they loved, even while not always loving each other.