|he Glass Village
Lynch him! The frail body of Fanny Adams was barely cold when
the cry for blood raced through the town as a plague. Shinn Corners' sole celebrity had
been slain, her skull split open by a poker, and now the good townspeople were thirsty for
This novel is supposedly an allegory on and an attack at McCarthyism. Considering the works were EQ nor his father appeared in, together with 'Cop Out' (1968) this book is one of the two non-Ellery books worth reading. Written by Queen 'himself' it sets a claustrophobic atmosphere. It borrows heavily from the setting and characters in a little town in Connecticut where Lee had lived (Rand B.Lee). "Influenced by the realist school, it has a relatively simple plot for an EQ book, and its mystery ideas derive ultimately from Crofts' The Cask (1920)." (Michael E.Grost)
Shinn Corners is a tiny farming community of about three dozen inhabitants, almost all of whom are strongly imbedded in the Puritan religion. Here we see the links to British mystery in that the story takes place in an isolated community away from other people. One individual, Judge Shinn, represents the only clear thinking around, except for that of an outsider, Johnny Shinn. These two have gone beyond the strict Puritanical philosophy and recognize other forces at work in the world. Johnny Shinn in particular has been in two wars, World War II and Korea, and brings to the New England setting the thinking of a man who has seen the horrors of the world and is left cynical by them. What occurs in the community after one of its number is murdered could not have happened easily if the setting were different. The mood of the story is molded by the buildings, the weather and by what people observe around them. Even the people themselves sometimes appear to be props in the setting rather than characters in the plot. In this sense the novel again demonstrates the formal detective novels use of stock characters who add to the mood of the surroundings.
Fanny Adams, famous artist and popular matriarch of the community, is murdered and soon
afterwards a tramp is captured carrying a sum of money exactly the same as that missing
from Fannys spice jar. The People of Shinn Corners immediately descend upon the
hapless stranger ready to exact just retribution in the tradition of quick Puritan
justice. The Puritan nature that cherishes privacy demands that the stranger be punished
by the people of Shinn Corners alone, and when representatives of the county seat come to
investigate and take over, the Puritan code fights them off. The people of Shinn Corners
have a confrontation with the county representatives and win the right to prosecute the
tramp mostly due to the clear thinking of Judge Shinn. The Judge stands apart and serves
as the clear-thinking link between the Puritan ethic and pure justice. Worldly-wise Johnny
Shinn becomes the cool-headed cynical assessor of facts and finally discovers the clue
that solves the mystery and seals the fate of the murderer.
b a c k t o Q B I
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