I was straightening out some book shelves the other day and I discovered an old audio copy of an Ellery Queen mystery. I had forgotten about Ellery Queen. It’s been a long time since I ventured into his world, so I decided to stop by my local library and borrow a
couple of Ellery Queen mysteries.
At the library I discovered something I didn’t expect. My local branch had no Ellery Queen books–NONE. When I discovered this I asked if a book could be transferred from another branch. My wonderful librarian checked the computer and we found there were no Ellery Queen books in the entire county library system. “Don’t worry,” she said, “we belong to a multi-state association of libraries that share books and we can request Ellery Queen mysteries from them.” I was informed this request would take two weeks, but less than a week later I received a phone call informing me that the only available copies of Ellery Queen books were so old they were no longer available for sharing.
Looking for Ellery Queen
I continued to think positively. I live only a few miles from a very large Barnes and Noble, so I decided I would purchase a couple of Ellery Queen books to add to my library. But alas, Plan B was equally a failure as B&N had no copies in the store. Now I was
determined! I returned home and jumped on Amazon and was finally able to purchase Ellery Queen books on line. I solved my problem but the lack of Ellery Queen books in the libraries and at the book stores is not a good omen for mystery fans.
Ellery Queen’s Beginnings
For those of you who don’t know, Ellery Queen is both a fictional character and a pseudonym for two cousins, Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee who authored the books. They wrote over 30 novels, several short story collections and founded the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in 1941 which continues to be published. They also wrote four books under the pseudonym Barnaby Ross about a detective called Drury Lane.
Ellery Queen was created by the two cousins in 1928 as an entry in a magazine writing contest. They won but a change in ownership at the magazine caused the prize to be awarded to another contestant. So the cousins submitted their entry to a publisher and the first Ellery Queen book the Roman Hat Mystery appeared in 1929.
Golden Age of Mysteries
Many devotees of the mystery genre feel that along with Edgar Allen Poe, the cousins developed the American detective format more than any other writers. Ellery Queen represents the classic detective in whodunits from what was called the “Golden Age” of the mystery novel.
With books from this period the reader discovers the clues along with the detective and has the same opportunity as the detective to solve the puzzle. The clues are carefully
presented so that by the end of the story there is only one logical solution to the crime. There may be red herrings but no information is kept from the reader and all suspects are on the scene and available for questioning.
In the next blog I’ll discuss more about Ellery Queen stories and what makes them unique. In the meantime if you haven’t read an Ellery Queen, by all means use the Amazon button on this site or jump on the B&N website and order yourself a great read. And when you’re
finished, think about donating your copy to a local library. Because this is one mystery series we don’t want to forget.