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For once Ellery Queen had a simple case. A few days of discreet snooping, some choice advice, and the inimitable sleuth would blithely restore domestic harmony to the millionaire couple Dirk and Martha Lawrence. And then came the scarlet letters. And finally the cryptic alphabet clue...scrawled in a murdered man's blood. A simple case? Ellery had been a fool to think so. And unless he did some super-fast sleuthing, he'd have nothing to show but a very scarlet face... and a killer on the loose.

"Lovers' quarrel?" said a voice. Martha Lawrence quivered.
Ellery turned. Dirk Lawrence stood behind the bench. The reek of whisky surrounded him. "My little Martha," Dirk said dreamily. "My little nymph."
"Martha," Ellery said, "you'd better go."
"Yes Martha, my love, you do that," said Dirk. "On account of I'm doing to teach this dirty little feist to keep his paws off another man's wife...."
Dirk backhanded Martha's face across the bench and she disappeared. Involuntarily, Ellery stooped to look for her. He never reached his knees. The blow nearly tore his head off and he blacked out.

 
“The old hand, in top form, this is smart stuff.” --  Kirkus Reviews

Although it contains much varied and amusing detection, this book is disappointing Ellery seems less than his customary alert self and the amateur sleuth is not accorded the usual fair treatment.
--
 J.J.Q. in The Herald
, Melbourne

There's nothing like a good murder to cheer you up, and no one more adept at leading you up the red herring trail than Ellery Queen.
--  The Argus
, Melbourne
 
The Scarlet Letters - dust cover Little, Brown and Co. edition, Book Club Book, 1952.  (Cover design by J. O'H. Cosgrave)The Scarlet Letters - hardcover Little, Brown and Company edition, 1953 (may exist in several variations of colours)The Scarlet Letters - dust cover Victor Gollancz edition, London, July 1953 (1st, 2nd impression)The Scarlet Letters - dust cover Victor Gollancz edition, London, 1975
Above left to right:  dust and hardcover for the Little, Brown & co. edition BCE; dust covers for Gollancz editions (1953 & 1975) (Click on the covers to see the differences) *
 
The Herald  - "Crime marches on" by A. R. McElwain,
October 17. 1953

"MURDER FOR PROFIT?
FIGURING out ways to commit murder for profit and live to have your profit, too, has occupied many conscientious murderers in the past.
Those brash enough to put their techniques to the test have invariably finished on the gallows, reluctant victims of their own complexities and vanity.
The miscreant, in our learned colleague Ellery Queen's notable new offering joins this sorrowful company, taking with him the distinction of having dreamed up, for greed's sake, one of the most involved murder schemes imaginable.
Before the law trips him the killer is immersed in a fantastically conceived 'love triangle' plot: also a scheme, involving the use of a code printed, rather fetchingly, in scarlet letters.
It all adds up to the kind of case which fascinates our Mr Queen. His approach this time is as unconventional and lively as before. And, let me add approvingly, he's helped once more by that bewitching wench, Nikki Porter, a girl who has loved him devotedly these many years and got mighty little encouragement in return. There is no place for so called romance in detection.
And admittedly, the sad decline of many a good detective has started on his wedding day. But, by crikey, Queen, were I in your place..."
 
The Scarlet Letters - cover pocket book edition, Pocket Book N°1049, Feb 1. 1955 (1st) - 1957 (3rd). (Cover painted by Carl Bobertz)The Scarlet Letters - cover pocket book edition, Pocket Books N°6076, 1961 (4th) (Richard Powers artwork)The Scarlet Letters - cover pocket book edition, Penguin Crime C2163, 1965 (cover design Romek Marber)The Scarlet Letters - cover pocket book edition, Signet 451-Q5362-095, February 1973 (1st) - 1974
The Scarlet Letters - cover pocket book edition, Signet 451-Y7499,  February 1973 (1st) - June 7. 1977The Scarlet Letters/ The Glass Village - cover pocket book edition, Signet Double Mystery, 451-E9675, March 3. 1981The Scarlet Letters/ The Glass Village - cover pocket book edition, Signet Double Mystery, 451-AE2887, 1984
 
Really short – more a novella than a novel. An odd EQ, where the murder occurs 3/4 way into the story, and most of the book is a suspense tale, though admittedly with some tricky deception. A lot of Nikki Porter, a character I liked and who bears, I feel, some resemblance to Inspector Thumm's daughter, Patience as found in the Barnaby Ross novels.

As Cat of Many Tails this also is a New York Queen novel. Edward D. Hoch said about this novel  ''... he wrote, 'The Scarlet Letters,' about a blackmail plot, with a guide to New York marked up on 26 locations, A to Z, all with clues. The Hayden Planetarium, Yankee Stadium, right through the alphabet. It really uses New York." (New York Times, "They love New York" by Dilys Winn, Oct 31. 1999)
 
The Scarlet Letters - cover Large Print edition, Ulverscroft, 1953The Scarlet Letters - cover paperback edition, Langtail Press, May 9. 2013The Scarlet Letters - cover audiobook Blackstone Audio, Inc., read by Mark Peckham, April 1. 2014. (audio CD)The Scarlet Letters - cover audiobook Blackstone Audio, Inc., read by Mark Peckham, April 1. 2014. (mp3 CD)The Scarlet Letters - cover eBook, JABberwocky Literary Agency, Inc, Feb 15. 2017
 
The Daily Telegraph, Sydney - "Whodunit?" by Zelie McLeod,
October 24. 1953

"IN 'The Scarlet Letters' Ellery Queen has concocted an ingenious variation on the old but evergreen theme of the eternal triangle.
I confess with pleasure that, until the last few pages, when the author reveals the nub of the story, I was entirely deceived about the activities of the three main characters ... the husband, the wife, and her lover.
Even the death scene, which Queen does exceedingly well, did not raise a doubt in my mind.
Queen is a polished writer. His observation and understanding of human behavior are acute, his characterization smooth.
There is an excellent scene in which, in his role of amateur private eye, he talks with two women, each of whom admit having had an affair with the same man ... a roaring bounder.
Each woman tells Queen why she will not help to destroy this man. It is a perfectly valid feminine viewpoint, which men may find interesting, and certainly encouraging."
 
Richard Powers artwork for the cover of the 1961 Pocket Book edition of "The Scarlet Letters" by Ellery Queen. 
Above: Richard Powers artwork for the cover of the 1961 Pocket Book edition of  The Scarlet Letters by Ellery Queen.
 


Met Rode Letters - coverMet Rode Letters - cover Dutch edition Prisma-Detectives N°384Lettres sans réponse - cover French edition, Un Mystere N°161, 1954 Lettres sans réponse - cover French edition, J'ai lu, N°2322, 1988Lettres sans réponse - cover French edition, J'ai lu, July 15. 1998Le lettere scarlatte - cover Italian edition, Garzanti, Serie Gialla #48, 1955
Le lettere scarlatte - cover Italian edition, Mondadori, series  'Il Classici del Giallo, December 2. 1973Le lettere scarlatte - cover Italian edition, Collana Oscar Gialli N° 167 Arnoldo Mondadori, Milaan,1989Le lettere scarlatte - kaft Italiaanse uitgave, Oscar MondadoriLe lettere scarlatte - cover Italian edition, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, I Classici del Giallo n. 888, 06/02/2001Le lettere scarlatte - cover Italian edition, Oscar Mondadori, Apr 7  2015De blodrøde bogstaver - cover Danish edition, 1954

The Scarlet Letters Translations:
Brazilian: As Cartas Vermelhas 
Czech: Psáno krví 
Danish: De blodrøde bogstaver 
Dutch/Flemish: Met rode letters 
French: Lettres sans réponse 
German: Zwei blutige Buchstaben 
Greek:
Τα κόκκινα γράμματα 
Italian: Le lettere scarlatte 
Japanese: 緋文字 (himoji) 
Mexican: Las letras escarlata 
Russian: АЛЫЕ БУКВЫ 
Spanish: Las cartas escarlatas (aka Las Letras Escarlata) 
Turkish: Zina ... ve cinayet 

De blodrøde bogstaver - cover Danish editionDe blodrøde bogstaver - cover Danish edition, Lademann, 1974De blodrøde bogstaver - Cover Danish edition, Rosenkilde & Bahnhof, 2015Las letras escarlata - cover Mexican edition, Ed. Cumbre, Una Seleccion Laberinto, 1955Las letras escarlata - Hardcover Mexican edition, Ed. Cumbre, Una Seleccion Laberinto, 1954
Las Letras Escarlata - Cover Spanish edition, Editorial Cumbre, Mexico, 1954Zina ... ve cinayet - cover Turkish edition, 1979АЛЫЕ БУКВЫ - Cover Russian edition, 2005 (also includes The Vanishing Corpse & The Penthouse Mystery)The Scarlet Letters - cover Japanese edition, Hayakawa Pocket Mystery Book, Sep 30. 1956The Scarlet Letters 'himoji' - cover Japanese edition, Hayakawa Publishing (full cover)The Scarlet Letters - cover Chinese edition, New Star Press, November 2013

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