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.
"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 dead in."
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?"
'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.'
Something a little different for the Queens, with a remote house, raging forest fire and peculiar characters. Although some typical characteristics remain as (e.g. 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.
b a c k t o Q B I
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