Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Halfway House (1936) by Ellery Queen

Just finished listening to Ellery Queen's 1936 Halfway House, which I'd rename Murder Can Be A Drag.
The killer dresses in drag but that detail gets short shrift. Was the killer accustomed to wearing women's clothes? Dannay and Lee missed an opportunity to establish that the killer was a man by not having him get out of the car when he stopped to get gas. Isn't that what men did when they got gas? Get out to stretch their legs? That would have also revealed the killer's footwear. High heels? Establishes history of wearing women's clothes! Flats? What women wears flats with that ensemble?

Also, Ellery doesn't say that it's probable that the killer was a man because they smoked a cigar or a pipe while they waited for their victim. He says that it's a certainty that women don't smoke cigars or pipes. Could have said that the women in this case wouldn't smoke a pipe but says ALL women don't smoke pipes.

Audiobook read by Fred Sullivan, published Blackstone Audio in 2014.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Eighty Million Eyes, Ed McBain, Reviewed by Anthony Boucher

Anthony Boucher's review in the New York Times, April 24, 1966:

"Ed McBain comes up with an excellent answer in EIGHTY MILLION EYES (Delacorte, $3.50): take two novelettes and combine them into a contrapuntal novel, so that each story heightens the suspense and casts light upon the theme of the ether. The titular novelette (1963) is about the poisoning (by the unusual means of strophanthin) of a major TV comic while on camera; "The Dear Hunter" (1965) is about a psychotic mam of violence who takes over control of the life of a girl he has never met. Each is very good in itself; combined, expanded and developed, they add up to the best book about the 87th Precinct in several years."

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Cat of Many Tails, Ellery Queen, Reviewed by Anthony Boucher

By Anthony Boucher, New York Times, October 9, 1949.

“A detective novel," wrote S.S. Van Dine in 1928 should contain no long descriptive passages, no literary dallying with side-issues, no subtly worked-out character analyses, no ‘atmospheric. preoccupations.’ And Ellery Queen, making his debut the following year, loyally obeyed Van Dine’s dictum, But the detective novel, thank heaven, has in the past twenty years grown far away from the sterile smugness of Van Dine and Ellery Queen has grown up with it.

“Queen has not followed the trends of the times so closely as to succumb to the amorphous plotlessness of the current "suspense novel"; "Cat of Many Tails" presents the puzzle-minded reader with a very pretty problem indeed. And it includes a brand-new solution to one of the fine classic gambits, the hidden motive underlying an apparently unrelated series of murders. It then goes on to probe the psychology behind the puzzle, with Ellery as an odd sort of lay deductive analyst.

“But what you will most remember the novel for is its ‘descriptive passages’ and ‘atmospheric’ preoccupations. If the human characters still betray a touch of the bloodlessness of the Van Dine era, the actual protagonist of the novel, the City of New York, comes magnificently to life. The impact of mass murder on the soul of a city has never, that I can recall, been depicted with such convincing vividness. Even the benighted few who have hitherto deplored the artificiality of the Queen saga will find a new scope and stature in ‘Cat of Many Tails.’”