click on cover to go back

The Egyptian 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.

 

The Evening Star
- New Books at Random by M. G - Jan 17. 1933

"For fantastic conception and design in the business of weaving the fabric for tales of mysterious murder the laurels go to Mr. Ellery Queen. When The Greek Coffin Mystery came along his readers felt that this time he had reached the high point of creating hair-raising episodes and weird situations, but apparently there is no such thing as a limit to the imaginative ability of this welcome narrator of gory events and the brilliant detection of their instigators or perpetrators.
The Egyptian Cross Mystery is distinctive enough in its very title to arouse the curiosity, and when the name of
Ellery Queen is observed as its author—then that settles the question of "What shall I do tonight, or read?"
Down in West Virginia, where the mountains crowd upon each other in massive dignity, and where settlements of human habitation are few and far between Mike Orkins and Ol' Pete, riding in from the hills in the gray and eerie dawn of Christmas day toward the little village of Arroyo, come upon a gruesome find. From the weather beaten signpost at the crossroads, half a mile or so from the town, hangs the decapitated body of a man both arms outstretched with the hands nailed to the tips of the crossbar of the sign and the ankles nailed to the center post. Investigation brings identification of the body as that of the somewhat eccentric schoolmaster of the region, and also the knowledge that his slow-witted man-servant is missing.
Ellery Queen is attracted to the case because of one startling feature which appears consistently in all phases of the affair. The conjunction of the road formed a huge letter “T"; the signpost to which the body was nailed presented to the eye a large "T”; the body of the crucified man, minus its head, resembled a "T,” and on the door of the schoolmaster’s house, not far from the crossroads, the letter “T” had been
scrawled by the murderer in the blood of his victim.
Here is the groundwork for an
Ellery Queen murder case which for baffling plot, fantastic design and elusive detection breaks the record. However closely the reader may apply that cold logic recommended by the author as the "analytico-deductive method" of detection, the solution of the West Virginia case and the two "T” murders which follow it remains as much of a mystery as the author himself—and, by the way, there is an interesting photograph of him on the inside flap—until his own brilliant application of his particular brand of logic brings the climax. A couple of hours of breath-taking shudders and chills for those who love them."

 

     
Above left and right : Add for Stokes Mystery The Egyptian Cross Mystery
"Watch for the Queen of Diamonds on the Jacket!"

 
“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.
The yuletide gore is a distant memory when the next such murder occurs, identical in every way, but now the location has moved to Long Island. When Ellery Queen
learns that the sun-worshipping nudist cult he encountered down south has made the same relocation, it becomes clear that the group and the killings must be intertwined. But then several more crucifixion murders follow, drawing Queen deeper into a tangled and eerie puzzle unlike anything he’s encountered before. It will take all of his powers of deduction to uncover the killer.


The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Pocket Books 227, 1943The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Readers League of AmericaThe Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Pocket Book, 1960The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Signet, 1969The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover SignetThe Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover edition Triangle 1940
The Egyptian Cross Mystery - dustcover Grosset & Dunlap, 1932, price unclipped 75 centsThe Egyptian Cross Mystery - Hard cover Triangle Books and Grosset & Dunlap, 1932The Egyptian Cross Mystery - dustcover Gollancz, 2nd printing first edition, 1933The Egyptian Cross Mystery - dustcover GollanczThe Egyptian Cross Mystery - dustcover Gollancz (Volume V of the Complete Crime Novels of Ellery Queen: first published 1933)The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Albatross Modern Continental Library, Hamburg, Paris, Bologna. Copyright 1933, Volume 73. This edition was not to be introduced into the British Empire or the U.S.A. It is written in English


Another masterfully constructed series of clues, although here one or two ideas that have been used since by lesser writers will be familiar and possibly guessed by the astute reader.
Some resemblances to Carr's Three Coffins since both involve three brothers of Eastern European background who committed a crime many years ago, fled their country, and took up other identities -- and are now facing revenge from a past enemy with a grudge. (Grobius Shortling)


    "Proof" of the keen commercial brain of the cousins: the publication of the story in the Spring of 1934 in Mystery Novels Magazine. Pictured right: the publication of "The Egyptian Cross Mystery" in Argentian Magazine Leoplan (March 1938)"Proof" of the keen commercial brain of the cousins. Pictured left: the publication of the story in the Spring of 1934 in Mystery Novels Magazine. Pictured right: the publication in Argentian Magazine Leoplan (March 1938)


A mass murderer who is truly insane and fiendishly clever. Beheads his victims (it turns out, for a very good reason). This contains nearly all the classic elements of an Ellery Queen novel, without the  presence of Inspector Queen or Djuna.

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...

The Egyptian Cross Mystery - coverThe Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Penguin Books Nr 1842. Priced 3/6, 1962The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover eBook edition MysteriousPress.com/Open Road, February 5, 2013The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover audiobook Blackstone Audio, Inc., read by Richard Waterhouse, October 1. 2013The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover, Otto Penzler presents American Mystery Classics, November 2020

 


Het Egyptische Kruis - dustcover Dutch edition, Servire, Den Haag, 1936Het Egyptische Kruis - cover Dutch edition, Servire, Den Haag, 1936Het Egyptisch Teken - cover Dutch/Flemish edition PrismaHet Egyptische Kruis - cover Dutch/Flemish edition de ArbeiderspersThe Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover French edition, La Nouvelle Revue Critique in the collection L'empreinte Nr 40, 1934Le mystère égyptien - cover French edition, le Limier, 1949Le mystère égyptien - cover French edition, le Limier Nr17, 1949
Le mystère égyptien - cover French edition J'ai Lu Nr 1514, 1983Le mystère égyptien - cover French edition J'ai LuLe mystère égyptien - cover French Edition Libr.des Champs-Elysees Nr 2456, translation Perrine Vernay, sept 2001Le mystère égyptien - cover French Edition, Archi Poche, Suspense, 2019Das geheimnis des Ägyptischen Kreuzes - German edition Die MitternachtsbucherDas Ratsel des Agyptischen Kreuzes - German cover  Amsel-Kriro 2, 1953Das Ägyptische Kreuz - cover german edition Ullstein, 1974

The Egyptian Cross Mystery Translations: 
Chinese: 埃及十字架的秘密  
Czech: Egyptský kříž
 
Danish: Det ægyptiske kors  
Dutch/Flemish: Het Egyptische Teken  (aka Het Egyptische Kruis) 
French: Le mystère égyptien  
(aka Le Mystère des trois croix) 
German: Das Ägyptische Kreuz  
(aka Das Rätsel des Ägyptischen Kreuzes) 
(aka Das geheimnis des Ägyptischen Kreuzes) 
Greek: Το μυστήριο του Αιγυπτιακού σταυρού 
 aka Το μυστήριο του Αιγυπτιακού Σταυρού  
Hungarian: Az egyiptomi kereszt titka
 
Indonesian: Rahasia Salib Mesir Kuno 
aka Misteri Huruf T  
Italian: Il mistero delle croci egizie  
Japanese: エジプト十字架の謎 (ejiputojyuujikanonazo)  
Korean: 이집트 십자가 미스터리  
Portuguese: O Mistério da Cruz Egípcia  
Romanian: Misterul Crucii Egiptene  
Russian: Тайна египетского креста  
Spanish: El misterio de la cruz egipcia  (aka La Cruz Egipcia)  
Swedish: Det egyptiska korsmysteriet  
Thai:
ปริศนากางเขนอียิปต  

Das Ägyptische Kreuz - cover German edition Ullstein KrimiDas Ägyptische Kreuz - cover Dumont's Kriminal-Bibliothek 1997Il mistero delle croci egizie - cover Italian edition, Periodici Mondadori, Libri Gialli 143, 1936Il mistero delle croci egizie - cover Italian edition, 1968Il mistero delle croci egizie - cover Italian edition, 1985Il mistero delle croci egizie - cover Italian edition, Ed. Mondadori, I Classici del Giallo, Nr.768 - 1996Il mistero delle croci egizie - cover Italian edition, 2004
Il mistero delle croci egizie - cover Italian edition, Oscar Giallia, Mondadori, Nov 29 2016El misterio de la cruz egipcia - Cover Spanish edition, Buenos Aires. Libr. Hachette, 1944El misterio de la cruz egipcia - Cover Spanish edition, Buenos Aires. 1946. Libr. HachetteEl misterio de la cruz egipcia - cover Spanish edition, coleccion Caiman, ed. Diana, MexicoEl misterio de la cruz egipcia - Cover Spanish edition, 1973El misterio de la cruz egipcia - Cover Spanish edition
El Misterio de la Cruz Egipcia - softcover Spanish edition, Barcelona 1955, Coleccion el Buho, Nr 39 (una seleccion de Crime Club)El Misterio de la Cruz Egipcia - cover Spanish edition, Editorial PlanetaEl Misterio de la Cruz Egipcia - cover Spanish edition, Misterio coleccion Naranja. Nr 1, BrugueraEl misterio de la cruz egipcia - Cover Spanish edition, El BuhoLa Cruz Egipcia - Cover Argentinian edition 2009O Misterio da Cruz Egípcia - Brazilian editon Editora MM, 1973
O Mistério da Cruz Egípcia - cover Portuguese edition Livros do Brasil, Vampiro Nr.27O Mistério da Cruz Egípcia - cover Portuguese edition Livros do Brasil, Vampiro, Jan 2021O Mistério da Cruz Egípcia - cover Brazilian editionΤο μυστήριο του Αιγυπτιακού Σταυρού - cover Greek edition, Viper, 1972Det egyptiska korsmysteriet - cover Swedish edition, 1968Misterul Crucii Egiptene - Cover Romanian edition, editura Enigma, 1994
Egyptský kříž - Cover Czech edition, Jan Naňka, 1935Egyptský kříž - Cover Czech edition, Jan Naňka, 1935Az egyiptomi kereszt titka - Cover Hungarian editionТайна египетского креста - Cover Russian edition, 2004 (together with the Chinese Orange Mystery)Rahasia Salib Mesir Kuno - Cover Indonesian edition of The Egyptian Cross Mystery, Editions Penerbit Pradnjaparamita II, Djakarta, 1962.Rahasia Salib Mesir Kuno - Cover Indonesian edition of The Egyptian Cross Mystery, Editions Penerbit Pradnjaparamita II, Djakarta, 1962.
Misteri Huruf T (Darah di Sebuah Salib) - cover Indonesian edition, Intan Asiaปริศนากางเขนอียิปต - cover Thai edition of "The Egyptian Cross Mystery", March 2009ปริศนากางเขนอียิปต - cover Thai edition of "The Egyptian Cross Mystery"
The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Japanese edition, publisher Ogiwara HoshikanThe Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Somatosha, Nr.5The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Hayakawa Pocket Mystery Book, April 1956
The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Japanse editionThe Egyptian Mystery - cover Japanse edition, Tokyo Sogensha, 1999 (Ishikawa Pocket, 1993)The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Japanse edition, Tokyo SogenshaThe Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Japanse edition, Tokyo SogenshaThe Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Japanse edition, Poplar, 1989. Aimed at young girlsThe Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Japanse edition,  Akane Shobo, 1992, text and comic combined
The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Japanse edition, Shincho, Feb 1988The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Japanse edition, Kadokawa Bunko, August 1978 (re-issue June 19. 2011)The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Aug 25. 2013,  illustration by Takenaka. Lincoln!? on the 2014 edition of The Egyptian Cross Mystery. Which appears to be professor Yardley, one of Ellery's former profs (Ancient history) The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Tokyo Sogensha, 2016The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Chinese edition, Star Press, March 1995/February 2000The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Chinese edition, Adventure Press, July 1. 2002
The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Chinese (Mongolia) edition, Inner Mongolia People's Publishing House, January 1. 2010The Egyptian Cross Mystery - cover Chinese edition, New Star Press, 2016이집트 십자가의 비밀(The Egyptian Cross Mystery) - cover Korean edition, 시그마 북스 (Sigma Books), Sep 1. 1994이집트 십자가의 비밀(The Egyptian Cross Mystery) - cover Korean edition, 해문출판사(Haemun Publishing),  Oct 25. 2001이집트 십자가 미스터리(The Egyptian Cross Mystery) - cover South-Korean edition, Dongsuh Mystery Books, 검은숲, Jan 1. 2003이집트 십자가의 비밀(The Egyptian Cross Mystery) - cover Korean edition,  해문출판사(Haemun Publishing), Oct 25. 2003이집트 십자가 미스터리(The Egyptian Cross Mystery) - cover South-Korean edition,  검은숲, Ellery Queen Collection, Mar 16. 2012
 


Click if you think you can help out...!

Other articles on this book

(1)
Reading Ellery Queen Jon Mathewson (Jul 2013)
(2) Mysteries Ahoy Aiden Brack (Jul 2018)
(3) Crucifixion of a Dead Man Ho-Ling (May 13. 2013)
(4) Nick Cordillo (Sep 6. 2021)
 
Interested readers should know that the icons/covers of books, used throughout the website have extra descriptions/information not included in the text on the same page. Pointing your cursor at the icon/cover used to reveal this extra information.
To achieve the same effect Firefox users can install an add-on called '
Popup ALT Attribute'. When installed pointing your cursor at an icon/cover results in showing you the details or additional information.

previous indepth review... b a c k   t o  Q  B  I next indepth review...


Copyright © MCMXCIX-MMXXI   Ellery Queen, a website on deduction. All rights reserved.