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The Devil to Pay (1938)

Queen is King when it comes to air-tight mysteries that combine in his inimitable and cunning way those elements of ingenuity, surprise, and original setting that make possible deductive solutions that are always fair to the reader and strictly in accordance with the science of streamlined murder. This, the fourteenth Queen to be introduced to America's largest book-buying public, presents a blonde and exotic actress, Winni Moon, and her scented chimpanzee; a murder which became a managing editor's dream; Pink, an athlete from Flatbush, Brooklyn; Solly Spaeth, an unethical financier from New York. And Queen is literally King in The Devil to Pay, when he masquerades as Hilary "Scoop" King.

Pocket Book editionThe Devil to Pay - cover Bestseller Library, 1938The Devil to Pay - cover Pocket Books, 1958The Devil to Pay - cover SignetThe Devil to Pay - cover Pan Books 1960


"The new mystery by Ellery Queen. What a thrill those few words give to mystery fans when they see them upon a book jacket. And there is Ellery at it again. This time he has moved out to Hollywood, not as a detective but as a writer of mystery plots for the movies and is employed by an invisible Mr. Butcher who has given him a large, beautiful but empty office and nothing to do in it. While he is waiting to see the man who is more inaccessible than royalty, a murder mystery breaks in Los Angeles; and like a hound after a fox, Ellery is soon sniffing after possible criminals.
With their usual stupidity, the police have arrested the wrong man, although with very good reason for doing so; so Ellery with his unfailing hunches and ability to pick culprits dives into the fray an as a pseudo-newspaper reporter, does a good job of intelligent sleuthing. Of course, in the true Queen manner and to the complete surprise of every one (we hope, for we ourselves did not guess the culprit) gets his man and rescues the innocent.
Although there is lots of local color, a glamorous but nauseating blonde Venus who leads around a pet chimpanzee on a pink ribbon, a dumb and opinionated inspector, a drunken newspaper man, a pretty and sporting heroine, still this is by no means one of the best of the Queen yarns. It lacks the icy gruesomeness of the earlier tales and seems to be solved with too great an attempt to find an unexpected murderer. Yet it is a snappy tale and miles above the general run of detective fiction. Queen's fans may be slightly disappointed by the normalcy of his latest crime thriller, but they will be glad to read it." ("Ellery in Hollywood" in The Brooklyn Eagle, Feb 20. 1938)


The Devil to Pay - Dustcover Triangle Books, 1942 reprint, No. 176The Devil to Pay - Triangle Books, 1942 reprint, No. 176The Devil to Pay - cover paperback edition, Mayflower-Dell, 1966The Devil to Pay - cover e-Book/paperback edition, The Langtail Press, Feb 2011The Devil to Pay - cover audiobook Blackstone Audio, Inc., read by Robert Fass, December 1. 2013


"... The story is typically Hollywood in design. Not any of its characters, except Valerie, is a Californian. Solomon Spaeth was “spawned” in New York, became a millionaire without scruples as to by what means and made his business association with Jardin in Hollywood.
Jardin is a Virginian, an aristocrat and a sportsman. Pink, major domo of the Jardin establishment, is a native of Flatbush, Brooklyn, Ruhig is an Austrian, Winni Moon began life in South Dakota and Walter Spaeth came into the world in a Chicago hospital. In keeping with the general atmosphere of California’s fantastic metropolis, Ellery Queen indulges in some choice comments on the studio outfits and other institutions in the melting pot of the Pacific Coast. It is a good story, nicely stacked with mystery and sprinkled with romance. And Mr. Queen is nonetheless fascinating because of his change of manner and appearance."    ("New Books at Random" by Margaret Germond in Washington DC's The Evening Star, Feb 23 1938)


The Devil to Pay - cover Tower Books, The World Publishing Co, Cleveland, Ohio; 1946. The Devil to Pay - hardcover Tower Books, The World Publishing Co, Cleveland, Ohio; 1946. Exists in several colors...The Devil to Pay - cover Devil to Pay, LargePrint Thorndike Press,2003The Devil to Pay - cover Victor Gollancz, 1973The Devil to Pay - cover Victor Gollancz, 1951The Devil to Pay - cover eBook, JABberwocky Literary Agency, Inc, Feb 16. 2017

Pre-publication in "Cosmopolitan" December 1937.This first Hollywood novel, the first to have vaguely political overtones, never really builds up a really interesting detective plot. Its best section is the opening chapter, which sets up the romance subplot. How odd that the police did not catch the rather elementary clues that EQ did. EQ's mystery plot ideas about men's camel hair coats would find more logical expression in his short story, "Mind Over Matter" (1939).

Ellery Queen and the Perfect Crime.

Above right: Pre-publication in Cosmopolitan December 1937.

Moord in Hollywood - cover
Moord in Hollywood - coverLe Mystère de la Rapière - cover French edition Editions de la Nouvelle Revue Critique, Collection l'Empreinte N° 132, january 1938Le Mystère de la Rapière - cover Canadian periodical Dec 15. 1944, Vol 4, MontrealLe Mystère de la Rapière - cover French edition éditions J'ai Lu, Paris, Nr.3184, 1992Le Mystère de la Rapière - cover French edition éditions J'ai Lu
Des Teufels Rechnung - cover German edition Ullstein Krimi Nr.1768Hollywood in subbuglio - cover Italian edition Biblioteca del Giallo Mondadori, 1965Hollywood in subbuglio - cover Italian edition Arnoldo Mondadori, 1965Hollywood in subbuglio - cover Italian edition I Classici del Giallo N° 664, July7.1992El misterio de la espada - cover Spanish edition, Nr. 33 Libreria Hachette, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1944El misterio de la espada - cover Spanish edition, Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala

The Devil to Pay Translations: 
Danish: Hollywood-mordet 
Dutch/Flemish: Moord in Hollywood 
Finnish: Piru Merrassa 
French: Le mystère de la rapière 
German: Des Teufels Rechnung 
 Hebrew:  תאוות הבצע אינספקטור גליק
Indonesian: Intaian Maut
Italian: Hollywood in subbuglio 
Japanese: akumanohoufuku 
Portuguese: O diabo que Resolva 
Russian: Грозящая беда
aka Дьявол заплатит
Spanish: La cuenta del diablo (aka El misterio de la espada) 
Mord i Hollywood 

El misterio de la espada - cover Spanish edition, Hachette, Buenos Aires, 1945La cuenta del diablo - softcover Spanish edition, Editorial Planeta, Barcelona 1953La cuenta del diablo - hardcover Spanish edition, Editorial Planeta, Barcelona 1953La cuenta del diablo - cover Spanish edition, 1957O diabo que Resolva - Cover Portugese edition, 1947, Sao Paolo
O diabo que Resolva - Cover Portuguese edition, Vampiro, Livros do Brasil, Lisboa 1984Hollywood-mordet - cover Danish edition, Martin's Kriminal-Club KobenhavnMord i Hollywood - cover Swedish edition Deckarhyllan, May 19. 2021, also includes the short story "Long Shot" (1939): HögoddsarenPiru Merrassa - cover Finnish edition, Pellervo, Helsinki, 1950תאוות הבצע אינספקטור גליק - Cover Israelian edition, 1968
Грозящая беда - Cover Russian edition, 2005 (includes The Greek Coffin Mystery)Intaian Maut - cover Indonesian edition Editions Punerbit Saka Widya, Djakarta, 1964The Devil to Pay - cover Japanese edition, 1998The Devil to Pay - coverThe Devil To Pay - cover Chinese edition, New Star Press, March 2011

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(1) Reading Ellery Queen - The Devil to Pay Jon Mathewson (Dec 2014)
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