|he 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
"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.
"... 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.
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"
Other articles on this book
(1) Reading Ellery Queen - The Devil to Pay Jon Mathewson (Dec 2014)
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