Cross Mystery (1933)
On Christmas Eve, an eccentric schoolmaster in the little town of Arroyo, W. Va., was brutally murdered. He was found with his head cut off, crucified on a signpost at a crossroads near his house. In the course of the next year, three other men, in various places, were found with their heads cut off, crucified likewise in the form of a T. Everyone working on the case, including Ellery Queen, was completely baffled. But Ellery had the feeling that there was one clue he didn't possess which would suddenly bring the whole tangled and eerie puzzle into line and give him the solution. That clue came to him with the fourth murder.
This novel has justly been called "Ellery Queen's weirdest adventure." A good many fans have gone further; they consider it his very best story.
“Crucifixion on Christmas Day.” That’s what the
newspapers report when a small-town schoolteacher is discovered dead,
beheaded, and tied to a T-shaped cross on December 25th. It’s a murder
bizarre enough to pique Ellery Queen’s interest ― and
intriguing enough to lure him to the West Virginia village where it occurred
to take a closer look. But when he arrives, Queen is met with too few clues
and too little evidence to produce a satisfactory verdict, even for a master
sleuth such as himself, and so returns home to New York defeated.
One of the "national whatsis" series, which EQ gave up to go to Hollywood. It was only later that he got back into really bizarre situations, without an excess of whimsy - and those were sometimes ghostwritten by Avram Davidson (And on the Eighth Day is mind-blowing, and in a way complements this book). A conclusion not that far fetched as it becomes more and more clear that religious elements are more than abundant in all the great Ellery Queen classics. Still difficult to choose between this one and The Greek Coffin. It may come second ... but it great second it is!
Again with a challenge to the reader...
b a c k t o Q B I
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