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Calamity Town (1942)

Wrightsville is a typical American town, buried in the great American heartland, up to its neck in good old American corn. No family in town is more respected than the one named, naturally enough, the Wrights. Daddy Wright is the town banker, Momma Wright is the town social lioness, daughter Patricia the town beauty, Nora the town recluse, Lola the town scandal. Ellery Queen likes sophistication, savoir faire, and all the swinging assets of Manhattan and its environs. So what in the world is he doing in this unearthly place? It is the job of the famous detective to find out which of the Wrights is the town poisoner. He must match his wits with a diabolically cunning and ruthless killer, while defending himself against a charge of murder.

Calamity Town - coverCalamity Town - Blackstone Audio BooksPan Books G386, 1960 Calamity Town - cover Pocket BooksCalamity Town - Signet Cover
Calamity Town - cover Penguin BooksCalamity Town - Cover editon published by Impress Mystery (Reader’s Digest Association), 2003Calamity Town - cover Large Print editionCalamity Town - cover eBook edition MysteriousPress.com/Open Road (October 25. 2011)

It all starts when Ellery Queen goes to a small town, disguised as Ellery Smith, to write a novel. He moves into a little house originally built for Nora Wright, whose fiancé, Jim Haight, had left town on the eve of the wedding three years before. Then Jim comes back, and things begin to happen. There are the three post-dated letters, for instance, and the attempted arsenic poisonings, which convince Ellery that someone is going to be murdered - but who? and why? Then the poisoned cocktail at Nora's New Year's Eve party, and the trial by public opinion on the streets, and what turns out to be a mistrial in court. Two more deaths follow, from more-or-less natural causes, before Patricia, Nora's sister, supplies Ellery with the one fact he needs to make a perfect and logical whole out of what he calls "the oddest case of mixed-up people, emotions, and events I've ever run across." This is one of Queen's best. (Cover)

Calamity Town - cover by Little & BrownCalamity Town - Little & BrownCalamity Town - cover Book Club Book by Little Brown & coCalamity Town - Triangle Blakiston Co - Philadelphia 1947

Apparently the story grew out of a casual, one-sentence reference to predated letters which one of the partners ran across in reading a popular biography (Bainbridge).
The first Wrightsville story is a masterpiece of character and scene. But the key points of the mystery aren't that difficult to figure out. Still, a deservedly recognized classic.
Calamity Town is the best of the Wrightsville books. This tragic novel has a remarkable sense of structure. The whole novel seems to built on railroad tracks, with events leading on with powerful logic. In 1979 Yoshitaro Nomura made a Japanese film based on this EQ-novel and named it 'The Three Undelivered Letters/Haitatsu Sarenai Santsu no Tegami'.  

January 29. 2013 playwright and West 87th Street Irregular Joe Goodrich brings 'Calamity Town'!  Deceit, madness and murder rip the social fabric of a New England village. Calamity Town is based on Ellery Queen's 1942 mystery novel. Directed by Dan Winerman. Tony Award nominee John Cariani (Fiddler on the Roof) will play detective Ellery Queen in this reading of Calamity Town.
The cast also included Farah Alvin, Jeffrey M. Bender, Stephen C. Bradbury, Julia Coffey, Katie Northlich, Jim Stanek, Dan Truman and Jennifer Dorr White.
"Escaping the glare and grime of summer in Manhattan, Ellery Queen, the celebrated novelist and gentleman detective, arrives in the small New England town of Wrightsville looking for a quiet place to write a new book," according to note. "Ellery finds himself personally and professionally drawn into a web of deceit, madness and murder."
New Dramatists is located in Hell's Kitchen, 424 West 44th Street, New York, NY

Calamity Town - audio coverCalamity Town - cover First Cheap Edition books, 1948.Calamity Town - cover Cheap Edition books, Third edition, 1949.Calamity Town - Armed Service Edition Book # 680 issued to service men in WWII.


De Verliefde detective - coverDe Verliefde Detective - coverDe Verliefde Detective - cover Dutch Prisma-Detective N°519De Verliefde Detective - cover Hema pockets, 1987
La Ville Maudite - cover French edition Le LimierLa Ville Maudite - French edition N° 6 coll. Le Limier. P, Albin Michel, 1947
La Ville Maudite - Swiss edition LA GUILDE DU LIVRE 1972, editions only available to subscribed readersLa Ville Maudite - cover French edition éditions J'ai lu, Paris, Nr.1445, 1983La ville maudite - cover French edition éditions J'ai lu, ParisLa ville maudite - cover French edition éditions J'ai lu, Paris, 1985La ville maudite - cover French edition éditions J'ai Lu, Paris, 1987
Schatten über Wrightsville  - cover German edition, Ullstein, Nr.1809Vivenda Calamidade - cover Brazilian edition Livros do Brasil, 2nd edition, Vampiro Nr.8, 1983Um Crime de Encomenda - cover Portuguese edition, 1983Um Crime de Encomenda - cover Portuguese edition, 1984Il Paese Del Maleficio - italian cover

Il Paese Del Maleficio - italian coverCalamity Town Translations:  
Danish: Ulykkesbyen  
Dutch/Flemish: De Verliefde Detective  
Finnish: Salaperäiset varoitukset  
French: La Ville Maudite  
German: Schatten über Wrightsville  
Hebrew: הקוקטייל   
   Italian: Il Paese del Maleficio  
Japanese: saiyakunomachi  
Norwegian: Arsenikkmordet  
Polish: Przeklęte miasto  
Portuguese: Vivenda calamidade  
(aka Um Crime de Encomenda)  
Russian:Несчастливый город  
Spanish: La ciudad desgraciada  
Swedish: Mr Queen har otur  
Czech: Město malérů  

Il Paese Del Maleficio - Italian cover, I Gialli Mondadori, Nr. 133 , 1951Il Paese Del Maleficio - cover Italian editionCalamity Town - cover Italian edition I Classici Del Giallo N°626, June 1991Il Paese Del Maleficio - cover Italian edition Amelibri Oscar varia N°1827, 2002.Il Paese Del Maleficio - cover Italian edition, 2008
La ciudad desgraciada - cover Spanish editionLa ciudad desgraciada - cover Spanish edition, 1962Salaperäiset varoitukset - Cover Finnish edition, Pellervo, 1948Salaperäiset varoitukset - Cover Finnish editionUlykkesbyen  - cover Danish edition, Lademann 1979
Mr Queen har otur - cover Swedish edition, Bonniers, 1943Mr Queen har otur - cover Swedish edition Acacia 1990Mr Queen har otur - softcover Swedish edition Bonniers,  1964Mr Queen har otur - hardcover Swedish edition Bonniers 1964הקוקטייל - Cover Hebrew edition (Israel), 1965
Przeklęte miasto - Cover Polish edition, 1972Město malérů - Cover Czech edition, Odeon, 1976Město malérů - Cover Czech edition 2007Несчастливый город - cover Russian edition 2005 (together with The Murderer is a Fox)Calamity Town - cover Japanese edition
Calamity Town - cover Japanese editionCalamity Town - cover Chinese editionCalamity Town - ChinaCalamity Town - cover Taiwanese edition, December 20.1995

 

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