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Memo from Ellery Queen
Subject: The Case of the Naked Gigolo

1. Why was John Marco at Spanish Cape?
Women? Money? Vacation?
2. Why did everyone hate him?
His good looks? Blackmail?
3. Who killed John Marco?
4. Why was his corpse completely naked?


The were the questions Ellery Queen asked when he found John Marco's body. At first, the answers seemed simple. But Queen soon realized that no case in his brilliant career had prepared him for the shocking events that followed this horrible murder!

John Marco, handsome despoiler of women, is found murdered on the beach of Spanish Cape. This piece of land and rock juts out into the Atlantic like some sleeping monster. It is owned by an eccentric millionaire, Walter Godfrey. At the time of Marco's death a number of ill-assorted people are visiting at Spanish Cape. Marco seemed to have some kind of an evil hold over these desperate women. But strangely enough, of all the people gathered there, his was the only face that did not wear the tense mask of dread.
When Marco's body was discovered, he was sitting naked in a chair on the beach. His corpse was completely naked with the exception of a long opera cape draped about him. Fortunately, Ellery Queen was vacationing nearby....

"Queen has a nimble wit which he uses cleverly as a means of relieving too tense situations. It is particularly noticeable in the dialogue." -- Perth Daily News

"Queen is a little too clever himself, readers will have difficulty in following his almost unfathomable subtleties."
--
Woman's Mirror - June 1935
 
The Spanish Cape Mystery - dust cover Stokes edition, 1935The Spanish Cape Mystery - hard cover Stokes edition, 1935The Spanish Cape Mystery - dust cover edition Grosset & Dunlap, 1935The Spanish Cape Mystery - hard cover edition Grosset & Dunlap, 1935The Spanish Cape Mystery - hard cover edition Grosset & Dunlap, 1935 (variation)
The Spanish Cape Mystery - dust cover Triangle Books edition, 1939, 1940The Spanish Cape Mystery - hard cover Triangle Books edition, 1939, 1940
The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover Triangle Books, 1939 until at least August 1946The Spanish Cape Mystery - hard cover Triangle Books edition (variation), 1939 until at least August 1946
Above: The first books published sometimes had identical front covers. The spine of the books/dust cover only differ in the publisher's logo. Top row left to right: Both dust cover and hard cover for Stokes, dust and two hard cover variations for Grosset & Dunlap.
Bottom row left to right:  A dust cover and hard cover for Triangle Books followed another set again for Triangle Books. (Click on the covers to see the differences) *
 
Rochester Times-Union, April 27, 1935 "New Books in brief" by Bruce Catton

"Next, we come to "The Spanish Cape Mystery." Like all the Ellery Queen books, this one has about as much relation to real life as one of Horatio Alger's lesser works; it's a mathematical exercise rather than a novel, and as such it is well-constructed.
A blackmailing gigolo is throttled on the beach by a country house, and he wears nothing whatever but a fussy cape. Mr. Queen puts his two and two together and bobs up with the necessary four after some ingenious thought processes."


The Bulletin
(Australia) - September 4. 1935

"The Spanish Cape Mystery is easily the best Ellery Queen that present murder-fan has read. In other books the master’s veneration for inordinate riches has betrayed him into irrelevancies about the lavish homes and habits of American plutocrats. Here he comes straight to the corpse (that of a blackmailing gigolo), and he reveals the secret lives of some queer men and even queerer women before the affair is cleared up. Incidentally, it mightn’t have been cleared up at all if some of the principals had taken ordinary precautions not to let their conversations be overheard."

 
The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover Bantam books paperback Number 1 - Los Angeles - 1935The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover Bestseller Library 11, 1940The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover pocket book edition, PocketBook #146 (from 1st printing in April 1942 to at least 7th printing, 1943)The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover pocket book edition, Pocket Book, 1951  (Art work Edmundo Muge)
The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover pocket book edition, Pocket Book, April 1962 (14th printing)The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover pocket book edition, Signet T4343, 1970 The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover pocket book edition, Signet, July 1. 1979The Spanish Cape Mystery/The Golden Goose - cover pocket book edition, Signet Double Mystery, 451-AE2406, 1983

The Spanish Cape Mystery (1935) contains an ingenious solution. The strange facts about the corpse's nakedness parallels the book's predecessor, The Chinese Orange Mystery, and its reversal of everything about its corpse and crime scene. The solution also shows EQ's admirable use of logic: once EQ figures out the method of the murder, he can deduce from it the identity of the murderer, in a way that seems paradigmatic for the use of deduction in the mystery. The Spanish Cape Mystery shares a family resemblance in its plotting to The Roman Hat Mystery (1929), "The African Traveler" (1934), parts of The Devil to Pay (1938), and "Mind Over Matter" (1939). However, the solution is fairly simple, the plot is not especially complex, and the body of the book is way over long for the substance of the plot. The whole thing would be much better as a short story.

The book shows EQ's ability to create a natural landscape, and integrate it into a story. It seems unusual for EQ, after the urban setting and delightful floor plans of so much of his fiction. "The Treasure Hunt" (1935) of the same year also has a dramatic, isolated natural location. Such lonely buildings in inaccessible settings are a tradition in 1930's mysteries. Several were made into movies, and the lonely mansion near the sea on a dark and stormy night is a staple of the 1930's Hollywood whodunit. (Michael E.Grost) 
The Spanish Cape Mystery - dust cover Gollancz edition, London, 1935The Spanish Cape Mystery - dust cover Gollancz edition, 1936  (First Cheap edition)The Spanish Cape Mystery - dust cover Gollancz edition, 1949The Spanish Cape Mystery - dust cover Gollancz edition, London, 1972The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover pocket book edition, Penguin Books, 1958The Spanish Cape Mystery - coverr pocket book edition, Hamlyn, 1981
The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover Large Print edition by John Curley & Assoc.,1963 The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover audiobooksThe Spanish Cape Mystery - cover eBook edition MysteriousPress.com/Open Road, February 5, 2013The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover audiobook Blackstone Audio, Inc., read by Mark Peckham, November 1. 2013The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover Otto Penzler presents American Mystery Classics, november 2022

Ellery still smokes, wears his pince-nez and uses a knife. Djuna briefly appears and his father is only referred to.
J.J. McC. appears in an afterword and states that last summer Ellery didn't solve "The Case of the Wounded Tyrolean". Ellery emphasizes that research on cancer in laboratories is being stepped up. He also points out the use of secret passages in the works of Wallace** and Oppenheim***.

The story is set during a week on a Spanish cape on the East Coast, situated 10 miles of Waylands amusement park, 50 miles of St-Maartens, 2 miles north of Wye. Close to Crossley Field.

Challenge to the reader included.

Ellery and judge Macklin drive up to the Spanish Cape. One of the important witnesses is white-overalled old Harry Stebbins, a filling-station/refreshment place proprietor. His wife Annie is an excellent housekeeper but suffers from sciatica.  One wonders if the naming of this character is a tribute to Arthur B. Allen's character in radio's The Stebbin Boys which ran from 1931 to 1932.


Movie: The Spanish Cape Mystery.
 

** Wallace (Richard Horatio) Edgar (1875-1932) English journalist,
dramatist, and thriller and mystery writer.

*** E(dward) Phillips Oppenheim, (1866 - 1946) the prince of storytellers,
wrote 115 books and 39 anthologies, and
became famous with The Amazing Quest of Mr. Ernest Bliss.

Detail from art work on cover Italian edition Oscar Mondadori n.1819, 1985
Above: Detail from art work on cover Italian edition Oscar Mondadori n.1819, 1985
Below: Detail for the Pocket Book edition artwork by Edmundo Muge.
Detail for the Pocket Book edition artwork by Edmundo Muge.
 
Sydney Morning Herald, May 17, 1935 "Novels of the Day"

"In "The Spanish Cape Mystery" Mr. Ellery Queen has given us a technical and absorbing display of high brow detective fireworks.
The tale is woven around a house party at the summer home of a wealthy American. The members of the party, though previously unknown to each other, are connected by the thread of their contact with the central character—the victim. To tell the story of the book would be to spoil the enjoyment of Mr. Queen's numerous admirers. They will not be disappointed in his latest performance. The sub-title reads "A Problem in Deduction," and there will be few readers who will close the volume finally without returning to the opening pages, to confirm or refute subtly suggested theories.
The author, an enthusiastic crime specialist, joins in the hunt, and reveals, logically, and convincingly, as an eye-witness, each baffling situation.
The character-drawing is sure, the descriptive passages and dialogue vivid and fluent. Mr. Queen's over-elaborate style and sometimes almost pompous egotism will no doubt antagonize some readers, but even his enemies will finish the book—perforce—and grant that it is a very good yarn."


The Telegraph
, Sydney July 6. 1935 "Flow of Fiction"

"Mr. Ellery Queen is one of the intellectuals who have bent their literary talents to the popular cause of tickling the popular fancy with murder mystery stories. He can not only write like a stylist but can also invent plots that are ingenious and work them out with fascinating cunning. "The Spanish Cape Mystery" is probably as strong a representative of this type of fiction as one would wish to handle, and the mastery of the writing and the subtlety of the construction are equally intriguing attractions which will keep one glued to the book. A mysterious kidnapping by a gigantic ruffian, and the discovery of a man murdered and entirely naked except for a black cloak provide the story with a sufficiently startling send-off, and then we are invited to watch Ellery Queen, investigator, collaborating with the police in piecing together the history of an extraordinary crime, from bafflingly scanty clues. The scene is a palatial holiday mansion on the peculiar neck of land on the American Atlantic seaboard known as Spanish Cape, and unusual circumstances are soon shown to mark the character of the house party that the Godfreys had gathered together. There was no apparent reason for the kidnapping of David Kummer, except that he was mistaken for John Marco, who was shortly afterwards the victim of the murder. And then it transpires that Marco had forced his invitation out of Mrs. Godfrey by some process of black mail, and had compelled her to invite others nominated by him. So the mystery of the affair deepens, and we watch absorbedly the unfolding of Queen's mental workings as he proceeds by process of deduction to clear the tangles out of the situation and prepare the way for a denouement for which there is only the one word thrilling. The author is too much the artist to be guilty of sensationalism in the usual cheap sense of the mystery novel, and no one could miss the penetrating cleverness that has gone to the making of the story."

 
"Redbook" pre-publication of "The Spanish Cape Mystery".a "Sunday Novel" from the Chicago Herald and Examiner. May 16, 1937. It is a 16 page insert, 15 pages of novel and back page advertising the next weeks novel.
Above left: Redbook pre-publication of  The Spanish Cape Mystery (April 1935).
Above right: a "Sunday Novel" from the Chicago Herald and Examiner. May 16, 1937. It is a 16 page insert, 15 pages of novel and back page advertising the next weeks novel.
 


De Naakte Waarheid - Dutch coverLe Mystère de la Cape Espagnole - cover French edition Collection L'Empreinte n°83, Edition de la Nouvelle Revue Critique, 1935.Le mystère Espagnol - cover French edition Editions Albin Michel, 1950Le mystère Espagnol - cover French edition Editions Albin MichelLe cap d'Espagne - cover French edition j'ai lu N° P 74 in the Policier collection ( à la Chouette) 1968Le Mystère Espagnol - French cover ed. J'ai Lu, 1993Frauen um John Marco - cover German edition
Frauen um John Marco - cover German edition Ullstein Krimi, 1973Frauen um John Marco - cover German edition Ullstein Krimi, Nr. 10190Die Rächende Hand - cover German edition MitternachtsbücherDer nackte Tod - cover German editon Dumonts Kriminal Bibliothek, June 2003Der nackte Tod - cover German edition, e-book DuMonts Digitale Kriminal-Bibliothek, March 27. 2014Il mistero di Capo Spagna - cover Italian edition Gialli Garzanti N°64, September 1955

The Spanish Cape Mystery Translations: 
Chinese: 西班牙岬角的秘密 
Czech: Záhada Španělského mysu 
Danish: Mordet ved havet 
Dutch/Flemish: De naakte waarheid 
French: Le mystère espagnol (aka Le cap d'Espagne 
aka Le Mystère de la Cape Espagnole
German: Der Nackte Tod (aka Frauen um John Marco 
aka Die rächende Hand) 
Hungarian: Gyilkosság a tengerparton 
aka Gyilkosság a Spanyol-fokon
 
Indonesian:Rahasia Tandjung Spanjol
 
Italian: Il mistero di Capo Spagna 
Japanese: スペイン岬の謎 (supeninmisakinonazo) 
(aka スペイン岬の裸死事件) (aka 夏別荘の怪事件) 
Korean: 스페인 곶 미스터리 
Norwegian: Mysteriet på Spanish Cape 
Persian: کتاب راز خانه اسپانیایی 
Portuguese: O mistério do Cabo Espanhol 
Russian: ТАЙНА ИСПАНСКОГО МЫСАv 
Spanish: El misterio de Cabo Español 
(aka El Misterio De La Capa Espanola)
(aka El misterio del Cabo Español) 

Il mistero di Capo Spagna - cover Italian edition Classici del Giallo Mondadori N° 271, 1977Il mistero di Capo Spagna - cover Italian edition Sfida al lettore N°15, 1985Il mistero di Capo Spagna - cover Italian edition Oscar Mondadori n.1819, 1985Il mistero di Capo Spagna - cover Italian edition Gialli Garzanti N°21Il mistero di Capo Spagna - cover Italian edition, Gialli "Amena" Garzanti, 1949Il mistero di Capo Spagna - cover Italian edition, Oscar Mondadori, paperback, 1997
Il mistero di Capo Spagna - cover Italian edition, Oscar Giallia, Mondadori, Nov 29 2016Il Mistero di Capo Spagna - italian coverEl Misterio De La Capa Espanola - Cover Spanish edition, Hachette, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Biblioteca de Bolsillo, Serie Naranja nº 132, 1946El misterio de Cabo Español - cover Spanish edition, coleccion Caiman, Ed. Diana, Mexico, 1957El misterio de Cabo Español - cover Spanish edition, Colección Polismen', 24, 1974 (ISBN: 84-361-0104-9 CQ1)El misterio de Cabo Español - cover Spanish edition, Plaza y Janés, nº 14. Barcelona, March 1980
El misterio de Cabo Español - Cover Spanish edition Ciudad de Libros (eBook)O mistério do Cabo Espanhol - cover Portuguese edition, Coleccao XIS Nr31, Editorial Minerva, 1954  (Art work Edmundo Muge)El misterio de Cabo Español - cover Spanish edition, 2nd edition, Coleccion Caiman, Editorial Diana S.A., Mexico, 1961O mistério do Cabo Espanhol - cover Portuguese edition,  Livros de Bolso / Serie Clube do Crime, Publicações Europa-América, April 1983Záhada Španělského mysu - cover Czech edition, Volvox Globator, 2018Gyilkosság a tengerparton - cover Hungarian edition, Athenae, 1936
Gyilkosság a tengerparton - cover Hungarian edition, Athenae, 1936Gyilkosság a Spanyol-fokon - cover Hungarian edition, Albatrosz Konyvek Budapest, 1978Rahasia Tandjung Spanjol - Cover Indonesian edition in 2 parts, editions Buku RoketМертвый дождь - cover Russian compilation contains three stories by different authors. "The Spanish Cape Mystery" (айна испанского мыса) by Ellery Queen, "Dead Rain" (Мертвый дождь) by Ed McBain & "The Rose Medallion" (Розовый медальон) by James Grant, Bestseller series published by Binom, Verba (Бином, Verba), 1996.Тайна голландской туфли - cover Russian compilation, includes "The Dutch Shoe Mystery" (Тайна голландской туфли) & "The Spanish Cape Mystery" (Тайна Испанского мыса), publisher Centrograph (Центрполиграф), 2004کتاب راز خانه اسپانیایی - cover Persian edition from 2015 by ویدا (Vida)
The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Hayakawa Pocket Mystery Book, PB 198, Feb 2. 1955The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Tokyo Sogensha, Jul 30. 1958, translated by Isamu Inoue夏別荘の怪事件 - cover Japanese edition, educational edition Sep 1959 ("Summer Villa Monster Case"), unconfirmedThe Spanish Cape Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Tokyo Sogensha, Oct 9. 1959The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Kadokawa Bunko, 1964The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover Japanese edition, 1999
The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Kadokawa BunkoThe Spanish Cape Mystery - cover Japanese edition, 2002 (eBook 2013)The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover Mongolian edition, Inner Mongolia People's Publishing House, January 2009The Spanish Cape Mystery - Japanese cover with cover art by Takenaka, Published by Kadokawa Shoten April 25. 2015The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover Chinese edition, Masses PressThe Spanish Cape Mystery - cover Chinese edition, Masses Press, March 2001
The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover Chinese edition, New Star Press, September 2015 The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover Taiwanese editionThe Spanish Cape Mystery - cover Taiwanese edition, January 20. 2005西班牙岬角的祕密 - The Spanish Cape Mystery - cover Taiwanese edition, Nov 20. 1997스페인 곶 미스터리(The Spanish Cape Mystery) - cover South-Korean edition,  검은숲, Ellery Queen Collection, Aug 27.2012
 

 

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Other articles on this book

(1) Reading Ellery Queen - The Spanish Cape Mystery Jon Mathewson (May 2014)
(2) Nudaque Veritas Ho-Ling (May 17. 2013)
(3) My Reader's Block Bev Hankins (September 2. 2019)
(4) Naked Death at The Chocolate Lady's Book Review Blog (November 7, 2022)
 
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