|he Dutch Shoe
Murder in White! A tragic fall -- an impending operation -- strangulation! When Abigail Doorn was wheeled into the operation room at the Dutch Memorial Hospital, her face was strangely blue and bloated. A wire had been tightly wound around her neck. The strongest suspect, because he stood to benefit by the death of this wealthy old woman, was her protégé, the famous Dr. Janney. Just before her death he received a strange caller -- one whose name he would not divulge. Ellery Queen, having come to the hospital to visit his old friend Dr. Minchen, had been present during the time of the murder. He immediately took over the case. Besides the problem of Dr. Janney and his caller, Ellery found himself confronted with still another -- why had Abby Doorn and her housekeeper quarreled continuously for 20 years? The housekeeper admitted she hated the old woman, and with a religious fanaticism declared she was an evil old woman who had received only what she deserved.
"Carefully constructed ... deserves to be savored." -- The London Times
"The Dutch Shoe Mystery (1931) is the third and last of Ellery Queen's apprentice works. The best part of the story is the initial ten chapters, which set up the central crime, and contain the main investigation. The initial murder shows some of Ellery Queen's surrealistic flair, without reaching the flamboyant extremes of much of his later work. These chapters move with the speed and grace They include one of the better and more interesting floor plans in a Golden Age novel. However, nothing much especially interesting happens after Chapter 10, till the finale (Chapter 30), when the crime is explained, with some ingenuity. The mid sections of the book are mainly character studies of the suspects, looks at motives for the murder, etc. They include a well-done portrait of a religious fanatic, which is countered and balanced by many sympathetic quotations from Ellery about religion. Religious imagery will go on to be present in many of EQ's late novels. All in all, this is a decent novella, which has unfortunately been expanded to novel length."(Michael E.Grost)
Ellery still with the pince-nez and walking-stick is smoking a pipe and
sometimes is surrounded with cigarette smoke. We learn he can't stand the sight of blood.
Ellery is said to have written the manuscript of the Murder of the Marionettes under his
own name. A young Djuna is present as is Dr.Prouty, Sampson and Cronin. The NYPD is
represented by Hesse, Ritter and Velie. Pete Harper a journalist is introduced. It takes
place in N.Y., at the Dutch Memorial Hospital on Center Street- East 60. The Doorn's house
is situated on Fifth av. opposite Central Park.Abigail Doorn is strangled with a wire
"A few detective stories stand out from the inky welter of crime, notably 'The Dutch Shoe Mystery'... a splendid story... with real flesh and blood actors, and written with verve and style." - Morning Post
"The book perhaps shows the influence of the Freeman school, with its medical setting, its background of a hospital, its timetable crime, deductions from physical evidence (the shoes of the title), and its solution through that Freeman-Crofts tradition, an alibi depending on "the breakdown of identity". However the story still has an intuitionist feel to it, not to mention one of the fullest imitations of S.S. Van Dine's mannerisms in the Queen canon. Unlike Freeman, medical knowledge plays no role in the mystery, although the hospital setting is deeply integrated into the plot. Most importantly, the logical precision with which the characters move through the floor plan seems very intuitionist indeed. It recalls Chesterton, and his rearrangement of characters and bodies in space and time. The book has a visionary quality, perhaps because it seems to be the product of something truly imagined, to borrow a phrase of Ursula K. LeGuin's. The book is organized around imagery of total whiteness, appropriate for a hospital of the 1920's. Together with the rectilinear architecture of the floor plan, it recalls the abstract art of its time, especially Malevitch's* Suprematism, and his painting "White on White". The effect of a "white-out", of a world turned totally white and disappearing into an haze of light, seems strong in this book. Movie (greatly altered): EQ and the Murder Ring." (Michael E.Grost) and in 1984 (?) Spinnaker Software brought us a video-game based on the plot of this book called Operation MURDER. Here players had to find their own solution using the video material and clues provided through detective cards...
*Malevich, Kasimir (1878-1935) Russian painter who died in poverty and oblivion.
The Dutch Shoe
Other articles on this book
(1) The Green Capsule – The Dutch Shoe Mystery (Ellery Queen, 1931)
(2) Mysteries Ahoy! - The Dutch Shoe Mystery Ellery Queen
(3) Reading Ellery Queen - The Dutch Shoe Mystery Jon Mathewson
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