| he Murderer is a Fox
"Why did you try to strangle
Above left to right: dust and hardcover for
Little, Brown & co. edition May 1945 (1st)
- March 1946 (4th); dust and hardcover for the early Book Club edition
Little, Brown & Co.,1945.
Below left to right: dust and hardcover for Detective Book Club, Walter J. Black, October 1945; dust and hardcover for the Sun Dial Press edition 1946
(Click on the covers to see the differences) *
Wilmington Morning Star, '"The Literary Guidepost" by Charles E.Honce, June 4. 1945
"Well, in this latest tale Ellery returns to Wrightsville, a small town that was the scene of a previous novel, 'Calamity Town.' Here he unravels the mystery surrounding a death 12 years before, clears a man serving a life term for the supposed murder of his wife, and dissipates the neuroses of a returned war hero and unites him happily with his wife - largely, mind you, through the ring left in a glass a dozen years ago.
The plot is simpler that that of other recent Queen mysteries, which is all good and there is an unexpected kick at the end which probably will startle you but also leave you somewhat artistically bemused."
Malone Evening Telegram, Malone N.Y. June 4,1945
"Ellery Queen rapidly is (or should I say 'are' in view of the fact that he is two persons?) becoming one of the most prolific modern writers, the bibliography of Frederic Dannay and Manfred Lee (who collectively coalesce as Ellery Queen) now numbers 39 volumes in almost every form of writing -—except poetry (and privately it might be mentioned that one of the boys turns that out too.). This record of a comparatively short literary life fills the page opposite the title-page of their newest detective tale. 'The Murderer is a Fox.' the 17th yarn in which that erudite and suave solver of mysteries Ellery Queen has appeared.
Before going into the plot - but not too deeply, since no reviewer wants to give away a detective tale — it might be worth while to look over that bibliography. In addition to the Queen novels, there are three volumes of short stories about the same detective, six anthologies of sleuth tales from the doings of lady dicks to the activities of flatfeet in the field of sports, an amazingly complete and amazingly interesting bibliography of the detective short story, four additional detective tales under the pseudonym of Barnaby Ross, three stories using the pseudonym of Ellery Queen Jr., and a growing list of 'Junior Mysteries.'
As if that weren't activity enough, there are Ellery Queen radio plays and an 'Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine,' which means positively that there is no loafing in the Queen household— either one.
Oh, yes. the plot: well, in this latest tale Ellery returns to Wrightsville, a small town that was the scene of a previous novel, 'Calamity Town.' Here he unravels the mystery surrounding a death 12 years before, clears a man serving a life term for the supposed murder of his wife, and dissipates the neuroses of a returned war hero and unites him happily with his wife — largely, mind you, through the ring left in a glass a dozen years ago.
The plot is simpler than that of other recent Queen mysteries, which is all to the good, and there is an unexpected kick at the end which probably will startle you but also leave you somewhat artistically bemused."
|Definitely one of the underrated Ellery Queen novels. Perhaps not so much in terms of deduction, but the novel confirms that Wrightsville is not a one-off. The figures become, to all readers, known fellow villagers. Ellery Queen's second visit to Wrightsville brings his most vividly involving character studies; on this level, it's Ellery Queen's masterpiece. A pity that the final final resolution is based on rather thin evidence.|
|The Telegraph Brisbane
February 25, 1946 "Today's Review" by Clem Lack.
"Lieut. Davy Fox, war hero, nicknamed the Flying Fox for his prowess- In the air, came back to his native town of Wrightsville, physically fit hut mentally sick. From his boyhood days an obsession had grown and festered in his mind; his father had been twelve years in prison, serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife, Davy's mother, and Davy's obsession was the fear that he had inherited homicidal tendencies from his father and would murder his wife Linda. Ever since childhood, this psychiatric problem had poisoned his life: that he was the son of his father and somehow would have to fulfill the pattern of heredity. He could overcome with his fists the jeering children who tortured him with the primitive cruelty of children, but he could not intimidate and silence the grown ups who whispered about his father, and looked at him with veiled pitying eyes. He came back to Wrightsville as its hero, but the obsession aided by his war experiences could not be slain, as easily as he had slain the combat pilots of Japanese planes. His wife Linda called in the aid of Ellery Queen in the desperate hope that he would ho able to help Davy In his terrible problem. The twelve year old crime is investigated by Ellery Queen; slowly and remorselessly the lives and the secrets of the Fox family and other inhabitants of Wrightsville are laid bare until at last the mystery is solved in the typical ingenious Ellery Queen manner. The progression of startling climaxes, and the surprise denouement as to the identity of the real killer put 'The Murderer IS a Fox', in the top grade of skilled detective fiction."
Daily Telegraph, Sydney - November 10. 1945 "Mystery of the Week: Intuition saves a mug" by Dr. Watson Jun.
"WHATEVER some of us elderly perfectionists of the Baker Street School may think about young Mister Ellery Queen's 'intuition,' no one can deny his ingenuity.
This case is one of his most ingenious — with a characteristic surprise twist on the second last page that jolted me into a hiccough of startled excitement.
In actual fact, Ellery Queen is unable to prove that his plausible solution is correct, and the enterprising student, after inspecting the evidence, may care to advance an alternative solution.
It is an interesting problem reminiscent of Queen's 'Calamity Town,' and like that earlier mystery, is laid in the New England town of Wrightsville.
Queen is asked to reopen a local 12-year-old crime of wife poisoning.
The husband has been sentenced to life imprisonment for preparing a lively and stimulating cocktail of digitalis and grape juice for his wife His relationship naturally makes the husband No. 1 suspect. (As m'lud Birkenhead persuasively inquired in a poison case, 'Who but the husband would ever want to kill the wife?')
And when it is proved — and the husband admits — that he and only he at any time had access to the grape juice, the jug, and the glasses, the husband is regarded as lucky to have escaped the hot squat.
To prove the innocence of this mug husband after 12 years is a job that would have exercised even Holmes himself.
Queen does it, slickly and entertainingly, stirring up a school of red herrings, uncovering a stack of 12 -year-old dirty linen, and collecting a couple of wallops on the head from a midnight intruder.
His chief interest is not the un happy husband, but the Air Force son, who has been discharged as a 'neuropsychiatric.'
The case is also enlivened by the gaucheries of the crudest, stupidest, and most offensive police detective I can recall since Inspector Tobias Gregson."
Above: Ellery opened his eyes. "Then what's your explanation, Bayard?" he asked sharply. "I haven't any, Mr. Queen. I can't give you one. All I know is I didn't sign this ledger, and I didn't renew that prescription." Dakin glanced at Ellery, shaking his head. ... (The Murderer is a Fox)
The Murderer is a
Other articles on this book
(1) Reading Ellery Queen - The Murderer is a Fox Jon Mathewson (Mar 2015)
(2) The Murderer is a Fox - Suddenly at his Residence (Feb 14. 2019)
(3) The Grandest Game in the World Nick Fuller (Aug 19. 2021)
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