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The American Gun Mystery (1933)

In the arena of a vast New York sports palace, a man lay dead, murdered during the opening scene of a spectacular rodeo.
Can you, as Ellery Queen does, follow these clues to the murderer? - A dead man's belt. What was the meaning of the deep ridges in the leather?
An ivory handled revolver. - How could the "feel" of the gun-butt provide a clue? The broken locks on a green box.
Did the way the locks had been bent point the way to murder?  These are the big points in one of the toughest mysteries ever tackled by Ellery Queen. It was a murder witnessed by 20,000 people, but only Ellery solved it.
Do you think you can, too?
Backcover of the Dell pocket book,, Dell Books 4 Published 1943, 2nd edition 1946 with mapback

This mystery is about...

  • A $5000 horse
  • Glass balls shot in mid-air
  • A horrible scar
  • A thirsty horse that would not drink
  • A $3000 check
  • Ivory inlays on an old six-shooter
  • A search of 20,000 suspects
  • A small bank balance
  • A newsreel scoop of a murder
  • A $42,000 gambling debt
  • The 41st cowboy who wasn't a cowboy


Buck Horne is shot with a .25 automatic in N.Y's new Colosseum on Broadway. Dr.Prouty reappears and from the N.Y.P.D. we get assistance from Thomas Velie, Hesse (blond and stolid), Pigott (thin and shy), Ritter (burly member), Johnson, Inspector Knowles, Hagstrom and Flint. Ellery wearing his pince-nez receives a telegram from Hollywood and sends them a story. With plan and challenge to the reader.

The American Gun Mystery - Dell cover N°4 , Pocket Book, 1933Avon T-292The American Gun Mystery - cover AvonThe American Gun Mystery - cover Mercury Mysteries #164, 1933The American Gun Mystery - cover Mercury Mysteries #164 or #42
The American Gun Mystery - cover Penguin edition 1956The American Gun Mystery - coverThe American Gun Mystery - cover eBook edition Road, February 5, 2013The American Gun Mystery - cover audiobook Blackstone Audio, Inc., read by Dan Butler, October 1. 2013

"The American Gun Mystery (1933) has a solution that is far fetched even by the standards of the Golden Age. The solution is a cheat, violating Golden Age standards of fair play. The solution is also unusual in that it involves a whole complex, public enterprise behind the crime, one involving both the rodeo and other aspects of show biz. So many Golden Age novels involve one solitary criminal dashing around the bushes of some country house, that it is interesting to see its exact opposite here.  The final chapters, however goofy, have a grandeur of conception. However "unfair", they show the wild imagination at work in the Golden Age detective novel. They also show the surrealism that EQ brought to his work. There is also a good deal of interesting logic and deduction in Queen's finale; the whole thing hangs together as a unified and internally logical plot, however implausible. The book also suffers from the fact that the storytelling leading up to the finale is stiff and uninspired. This is a common problem in EQ; many of the early novels have much better solutions than the narrative between the crime and its solution. The business of the disappearing gun is well done by any standards."(Michael E.Grost)

The American Gun Mystery (aka Death at the Rodeo) - Triangle dustcover January 1941The American Gun Mystery - Triangle hardcover January 1941The American Gun Mystery - coverThe American Gun Mystery - cover Triangle Books, 1933The American Gun Mystery - cover Ballantine Books, Oct 12. 1979The American Gun Mystery - cover Large Print Library
The American Gun Mystery - coverThe American Gun Mystery - coverThe American Gun Mystery - coverThe American Gun Mystery - dustcover World Publishing Company, Tower Books, 1946The American Gun Mystery - hardcover World Publishing Company, Tower Books, 1946

"It could have been some sort of political commentary, that when it came time to add an "American" book to EQ's series of country titles, he choose The American Gun. Perhaps this reflects America's gun enthusiasm. One rodeos must have visited New York in that era and made a tremendous impression. A similar rodeo is featured in Stuart Palmer's Murder on Wheels (1932), and probably share a common real life ancestor."(Michael E.Grost)

With a challenge to the reader included.

A bit mind boggling at first, this strange reference to Queen which takes us into poetry. Which is interesting because of the special interest in poetry the nephews, (especially Dannay) had. Although this isn't obvious the following is to be read in a JJMcC kind of way... in it's entirety

EQ Poem from Pinothek (used by permission)

"Above, a poem drawn from the depths of The American Gun Mystery (1933) ... The extraction was the work of an anonymous member or members of the Resurrectionists, a shadowy group devoted to finding the poetry hidden in the works of the most prosaic authors. The members never made their identities public, although rumors flew during their heyday, from the late 1950s to the mid-'70s. This anonymity, which seems to have begun as a whimsical cloak-and-dagger affectation, was before long cemented by threats of lawsuits from touchy authors. ... ." (more at Pinakothek)

De Dood schoot met Scherp - coverDe Dood schoot met Scherp - Dutch coverLa Mort a Cheval - Published in Canada in Montreal by Editions de Demain, this being volume 5, number 12, December 1945La Mort a Cheval - French edition, Éditions La Nouvelle Revue, 1937La mort a cheval - cover French edition, Garnier/Les Classiques De L'enigme - 1980La mort a cheval - cover French edition J'ai Lu, 1991Der verschwundene Revolver - cover German Edition Signum Taschenbücher Nr 136
Cinquemila hanno visto - cover Italian edition, Mondadori, 1935Cinquemila hanno visto - cover Italian editionCinquemila hanno visto - cover Italian edition, N°256, 1964Cinquemila hanno visto - cover Italian edition, series 'I classici del giallo' N°366Ventimila hanno visto - cover Italian edition, Sfida al lettore Nr.13 April 1985Ventimila hanno visto - cover Italian edition, series 'I Classici del Giallo', N° 993, june 2004El misterio de la pistola americana - cover Spanish edition, Coleccion El Buho Grandes Novelas Policiacas, February 1960

The American Gun Mystery Translations:  
Brasilian: O Misterio da Arma Desaparecida  
AKA O Misterio do Revolver Americano
Danish: Rodeo-mysteriet  
Dutch/Flemish: De dood schoot met scherp  
Estonian: Ameerika püstoli mõistatus  
French: La mort à cheval  
German: Der verschwundene Revolver  
Italian: Cinquemila hanno visto  
(aka Ventimila hanno visto)  
Japanese: アメリカ銃の謎 (amerikajyuunonazo)  
Polish: Záhada americké pistole  
Spanish: El misterio de la pistola americana  

El misterio de la pistola americana - cover Spanish edition, Editorial Picazo, Morgue 65 N°5, 1965.El misterio de la pistola americana - cover Spanish edition, Editorial Picazo, Barcelona, 1981O Misterio do Revolver Americano - cover Brasilian edition, Editora MinervaO Misterio da Arma Desaparecida - cover Portuguese edition, Publicações Europa-América, April 1987ΘANATOS ΣTO PONTEO - cover Greek editionAmeerika püstoli mõistatus - cover Est edition, Eesti Raamat, 1986
ТАЙНА АМЕРИКАНСКОГО ПИСТОЛЕТА - Cover Russian edition, 2005 (also includes The Halfway House)The American Gun Mystery - cover Japan 'amerikajyuunonazo', 1992The American Gun Mystery - cover Japanese editionThe American Gun Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Jun 25. 2014,  illustration by TakenakaThe American Mystery/The Glass Village - cover Chinese edition, Masses Press, December 2000
The American Mystery - cover Taiwanese editionThe American Mystery - cover Chinese edition (?)The American Mystery - cover Taiwanese edition, November 20. 2004The American Gun Mystery - cover Chinese edition, New Star Press, August 2010The American Gun Mystery - cover Chinese edition, Chemical Industry Press, January 1. 2016

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