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Misadventures ellery queen

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J.N. Williamson’s Ten Months’ Blunder

EQMM May 1961 coverJosh Pachter and Dale C. Andrews wisely keep the parody section of their anthology, The Misadventures of Ellery Queen, to three stories. They’re short, fun, and funny; but a little goes a long way, so three is just right.

Originally presented in EQMM (May 1961) J.N. Williamson’s “Ten Months’ Blunder” features Celery Keen, who solves the murder of a pawnshop owner swiftly, smugly, and questionably in four pages. But is the pompous Celery really as keen as his namesake?

EQMM cover image from Galactic Central.

This review continues on April 10th . . .

Dale C. Andrews & Kurt Sercu’s Book Case

EQMM May 2007 coverThe sixth (and final) pastiche in The Misadventures of Ellery Queen, edited by Josh Pachter and Dale C. Andrews, “The Book Case” by Dale C. Andrews and Kurt Sercu, is a highlight of the anthology. It’s long enough to unfold in three parts, but so well constructed and delivered I couldn’t help wishing there were more. The story first appeared in EQMM’s Department of First Stories in May 2007 and garnered second place in that year’s Readers’ Choice Awards.

An older Ellery Queen is drawn out of retirement by Detective Harry Burke, whom he met in the novel Face to Face in 1967. Dr. Jason Tenumbra and his partner Dr. Quinn Djuna are both found dead within a few miles and hours of each other. Burke’s partner quickly assesses the evidence and concludes Djuna murdered Tenumbra and then took his own life. Burke isn’t as certain. Tenumbra’s collection of first editions line the bookcase behind his desk. Why were all the books written by Ellery Queen pulled from the self and dumped on the floor of the murder scene? Thankfully, when Ellery Queen arrives and allows all of the clues to steep, his conclusion unerringly points to one of three women, each with a powerful motive to wish the lecherous Tenumbra was dead.

EQMM cover image from Galactic Central.

More to come on April 6th . . .

Edward D. Hoch’s Reindeer Clue

The original appearance of “The Reindeer Clue,” (the fifth story in The Misadventures of Ellery Queen, edited by Josh Pachter and Dale C. Andrews, pastiche section) was in 1975, in The National Enquirer. Who knew they ran fiction? The story, attributed to Ellery Queen, could not be a pastiche—unless it was actually written by someone else—and it was: Edward D. Hoch, an EQ pseudonym surrogate.

Casey Sturgess, ex-journalist suspected of using his investigatory skills to dig up dirt for blackmail is found dead in the reindeer pen of a children’s zoo. No pressure, but the holidays are here, and a herd of children are due for a visit with Rudolph any minute. Fortunately, Ellery Queen, who arrived earlier, quickly identifies three prime suspects. Readers receive their challenge, their reindeer clue, and their chance to best the legendary detective. Good luck! “The Reindeer Clue” is a light-hearted holiday-themed treat.

More to come . . .

Francis M. Nevins’ Open Letter to Survivors

EQMM May 1972 coverThe fourth story in The Misadventures of Ellery Queen, edited by Josh Pachter and Dale C. Andrews, pastiche section:

The background notes by Francis M. Nevins that bookend his “Open Letter to Survivors,” first presented in EQMM May, 1972, only embellish an already excellent pastiche. Formidable and wealthy, Adelina Monquieux (pronounced Mon-Q) is mother to adopted sons Xavier, Yves, and Zachary—identical triplets. That is, until she’s found murdered shortly after her introduction to an unnamed eloquent, quick-witted sleuth. Her will stipulates her secret memoir must remain unread, locked in her safe for 24 years after her demise, lest her fortune go south rather than Far East, for the children of war-torn Japan. Needless to say, the murderous perp is thrice clever and only the extraordinarily quick mind of the detective is able to follow the letter of the lawless.

EQMM base image from Galactic Central.

More to come . . .

Jon L. Breen’s Gilbert and Sullivan Clue

EQMM Sep/Oct 1999 coverThe third story in The Misadventures of Ellery Queen, edited by Josh Pachter and Dale C. Andrews, pastiche section:

Jon L. Breen’s “The Gilbert and Sullivan Clue” first appeared in a double-issue of EQMM (Sep/Oct) in 1999. After a wildly successful comedy duo splits, Ozzie Foyle’s career as a solo takes off, while his old partner Joey Dugan’s tanks. A murder takes place on the cruise ship where Foyle is headlining and Ellery Queen is onboard courtesy of Foyle’s agent. The mystery requires nearly a dozen characters, which in turn requires four pages to introduce and clarify their relationships. Even with Breen’s efficient prose, the story ramps slowly. Fortunately, once the setup’s complete, the pace quickens and the plot thickens quite nicely.

EQMM base image from Galactic Central.

More to come . . .

Leyne Requel’s Dying Message

Ellery Queen July 1966 coverThe second story in The Misadventures of Ellery Queen, edited by Josh Pachter and Dale C. Andrews, pastiche section:

First published in the July 1966 edition of EQMM, Leyne Requel’s “Dying Message” is a playful romp. A murder sprawls its victim in a lakeside hunting lodge, while the victim scrawls a clue to his murderer’s identity in his final message. Things look dire for the obvious suspect as the clues mount in his direction. Fortunately, there is a simple, but crafty key that clears the innocent and reveals the real killer by the story’s end. In this case, the “challenge to the reader” caps the finale.

EQMM cover image from Galactic Central.

More to come . . .

Thomas Narcejac’s Mystery of the Red Balloons

The Misadventures of Ellery Queen coverThe opening story in The Misadventures of Ellery Queen, edited by Josh Pachter and Dale C. Andrews, pastiche section:

Thomas Narcejac is credited with writing the first Queen pastiche in 1947. However, it was written in French, and appears for the first time in English here, thanks to Rebecca K. Jones’ translation. “The Mystery of the Red Balloons” is a classic Ellery Queen whodunit and gives the collection a pitch-perfect start. A series of murders plague New York City, with no discernible connection between the crimes, save the presence of a single red balloon tied outside each victim’s environs. When Queen ascertains the solution he broaches the third wall and issues a “challenge to the reader” to solve the mystery before he reveals its solution.

More to come . . .