Greek Coffin Mystery (1932)
From the very
beginning, the Khalkis case struck a somber note. It began, as was peculiarly harmonious
in the light of what was to come, with the death of an old man. Georg Khalkis,
internationally famous art dealer and collector, died of heart failure. After his funeral,
his attorney found that the will was missing and immediately called in the district
"The Greek Coffin Mystery is a lively and
well-constructed yarn containing unusual setting, ingenuity of plot, a surprise solution
and legitimate use of the analytical deductive method."-
"All I do know is that he has
long seemed to me one of the very best detective authors now writing, and
that I always grab every new story of his that comes along."
- J.B. Priestley - Evening Standard
EQ is not an absurdist. The solutions
seem logical and well developed, unlike Anthony Berkeley's multiple solution novel, The
Poisoned Chocolates Case (1929).The novel is derived from E.C. Bentley's
1 Trent's Last Case
(1913) which has two
solutions, and shows its detective failing to solve the mystery, with the true solution
being only revealed by chance after the detective offers a false (if ingenious)
explanation. Berkeley used this plot pattern repeatedly in his books, with numerous
variations: both multiple solutions and failed detectives abound. Berkeley seems most
interested in writing an anti-detective story, showing how each situation can be twisted
to express a multitude of interpretations, mocking the idea of detective stories in
general, and the ability to understand anything through reason. This sort of absurdism is
very far from EQ's approach. EQ is instead interested in showing how reason can go deeper
and deeper in a situation, uncovering profounder and profounder ideas. The closest analogy
or model for EQ is scientific discovery, wherein a Tycho Brahe will make thousands of
factual observations, a Kepler will then group them into laws, and a Newton will finally
explain these laws through a system of universal gravitation. EQ's book is a
fictionalization of this process, an attempt to create an imaginary situation that fully
demonstrates the complexities of human reason.
According to JJMcC this case precedes the earlier publications and dates back to the years when Ellery was just graduated from college.
There is a challenge to the reader included.
The Greek Coffin
Other articles on this book
(1) The Green Capsule Noah Stewart (Jan 2018)
(2) Mysteries Ahoy! Aiden Brack (Feb 2018)
(3) Reading Ellery Queen Jon Mathewson (Jun 2013)
(4) Elleryana Ho-Ling (May 12. 2013)
(5) The Grandest Game in the World Nick Fuller (Dec 20. 2017)
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