|he Origin of Evil (1951)
Ellery Queen was sun-bathing in the doorway of his Hollywood bedroom when the pretty young girl appeared. She was dressed in zebra-striped culottes and bolero over a bra-like doodad of bright green suede. "I don't think there's anything funny in a dead dog, do you?" she asked. "Dogs die all the time," Ellery said in a kindly voice. The girl stared down at her cigarette. "He was a gift, and it killed my father." "How exactly did a dead dog 'kill' your father?" "It murdered him."
Ellery Queen is in tremendous form... First rate" -- Norman Blood Time and Tide
"Even this master of plot, surprise and the bizarre has never done anything better... For sheer ingenuity and the piling on of new surprises when one feels that the story is over, this is a winner... The maestro excels himself" -- Joseph Taggart The Star
"Doubtful he will ever write a more teasing mystery than 'The Origin of Evil', but doubtless he never has" -- Daniel George
"The old fascination is as strong as ever. The narrative suspends not only disbelief but everything else except attention" --Punch
"Nearly incredible ingenuity" -- Manchester Evening News
"Fiendish ingenuity... Of world-championship class" -- Birmingham Post
EQ returned to Hollywood for a third novel."The book is filled with fairly unlikable characters, and once again, like The Devil To Pay, it deals with crooked businessmen in L.A., not the movie industry. The plot rings every possible change on a single detective theme (the avenger from the past) as if it were a Jack Ritchie short story swelled to giant size. There is some ingenuity here, but as a whole the novel seems pretty minor.
The book expresses pessimism over the arms
race, and describes Yugoslavia and Iran and Korea as possible places where war could break
out: 48 years later this seems frighteningly prophetic. The name of the young hero, who
lives in a tree house like Tarzan, Crowe Macgowan, seems to be inspired by Cro-Magnon Man,
suggesting he is an evolutionary throwback; an appropriate enough choice in a novel whose
title derives from Darwin's The Origin of the Species. Although this suspect (as
Chinese Orange Mystery) named Macgowan (with a small g) could also
be a reference to Kenneth Macgowan, who edited the anthology Sleuths
b a c k t o Q B I
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