Cross Mystery (1932)
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.
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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