Twin Mystery (1933)
A forest fire
which hems in a mountain-top mansion on every side and creeps gradually closer and closer
is a sinister background for the equally sinister tale of murder. It was murder with such
complicated and subtle clues that no one but Ellery Queen could have unraveled the tangled
web, and even he thought more than once that he held the end in his hands only to discover
that it was really a loose end. What was the mystery of the isolated mansion? Why had the famous
surgeon John Xavier, come there to live? Why was Marie Carreau, a society beauty
supposedly traveling in Europe, hiding in one of the rooms? What was the Thing which
Inspector Queen saw and could describe to his son only a giant crab? All the questions
puzzled Ellery even before the first murder - and then there was another one.
The fire crept closer; there was no way to escape from it and neither was there any way
for the murderer to escape from his guilt. It was death one way or another. But Ellery,
the connoisseur of murder, was not satisfied with the idea of an impersonal punishment by
impersonal forces. He must find out and confront the murderer with his crimes.
And then the miracles happened - Ellery Queen's miracle of brilliant deduction and the
simple, impossible miracle of Nature. You'll be left gasping by this story of sordid
and tortuous involvement's and tense horror. Ellery Queen has never done better, either as
author or detective.
"Mr. Queen handles his story elements-the growth of fear, the interplay of emotion, the delineation of common people helpless before an uncommon situation-equally as superbly as he does his mystery and detective elements, in the concoction and treatment of which he is a past master."
"Who the devil do you think you are
anyway?" Mark Xavier shouted. Ellery's father took a worn black case from his pocket
and snapped the lid open. Inside lay a round embossed gold shield. "Inspector Queen
of the Homicide Squad, New York City Police Department", he said. "I'm sorry I
didn't announce last night that I'm a copper. "Because if I had, I'm certain that
Dr. John Xavier would be alive this morning. And it's too damned beautiful a morning to be
We've got to get under cover," Ellery Queen
insisted. "The house is burning now.... The cellar -- where's the cellar? Lord, what
unmitigated idiots! Talk, will you, somebody?"
"The cellar," they chanted obediently, fixing glassy eyes on his face.
"Behind the stairs," rasped Mrs. Xavier. Her gown was torn away from one
shoulder. "Oh, hurry, hurry." She sped down the hall.
Ellery Queen, his father and an odd group of people were trapped in a mountaintop house. A
raging forest fire surrounded them.
Two of their number had already perished ... by murder.
And the murderer was still in their midst!
Something a little different for the Queens, with a remote house, raging
forest fire and peculiar characters. Although some typical characteristics remain as
a map is provided) some aspects illustrate the change in the Queen approach to the story.
The increasing departure from the fair play-rules of "The Golden Age" as the final solution
depends a little to much on guesswork than deduction. The characters taking some of the
time away from the otherwise slightly straightforward plot and the telltale absence of the
"Challenge to the Reader". The second time after
The Tragedy of X
(1931) the Queen hallmark of
the "dying clue" was introduced.
The story is set two days from N.Y. on
Arrow mountain (close to the
Tomahawk valley in the Tepee mountains). Quiet accurately put at the 60th km on
Tuckesas to Osquewa (which was 80 km in total).The Queens are
returning from holiday in
Canada in the Duesenberg which plays a major role at
the beginning of the story.
Dr.Xavier is poisoned. When the victim has diabetes rigor mortis sets almost immediately,
EQ had encountered this once before (The Egyptian Cross ?)
Often some new discoveries are featured in Queen books here a new medication is mentioned:
Ellery remarked that the etching on the wall was etched after the "grisly" Rembrandt
painting The Anatomy Lesson.
Ellery's mother is mentioned. Not so long ago he was in Florence were he bought a ring. He
still wears a lorgnette and smokes cigarettes.
Richard is close to sixty, uses his snuffbox and wears a cheap wedding ring.