|he Tragedy of X
Let the unknown = X! A crowded
street car! A man is murdered! Everyone saw him die, but no one saw the killer! Many
people (even his own partner) had good reason to hate Longstreet. Inspector Thumm's few
clues all led up a blind alley. He finally sought the aid of Drury Lane, retired
Shakespearean actor, who made a hobby of solving crimes. Seated amid the splendor of the
vast medieval halls of his castle on the Hudson, Drury Lane hears the story from the
Inspector. He knows who the murderer is, but refuses to reveal his identity until he has
sufficient evidence for the police to arrest him. This story is crammed full of chilling
thrills! Why was the streetcar conductor murdered? Why won't Longstreet's partner talk?
The answers to these questions and others all lead to the solution of this puzzling
City, the early 30's. A man is poisoned on a crowded streetcar during rush hour. Everyone
saw him die, but no one saw the killer! And far too many people had good reason to hate
Longstreet. The few clues lead up to a blind alley, and District Attorney Bruno and
Inspector Thumm pay a call on Drury Lane.
Drury Lane! Retired Shakespearean actor. Matinee idol. Master of disguise. Amateur sleuth
who finds "crime the highest refinement of human drama." Ellery Queen's most
Seated amid the splendor of the vast medieval halls of his castle on the Hudson, Drury
Lane hears the story. Almost at once, he knows who the murderer is, but refuses to reveal
his identity until he has sufficient evidence for the police to arrest him.
In the great tradition, all the clues are scrupulously presented to you, the reader. Can
you solve the case before the police?
Above left: Tragedy of X -
cover Frederick A. Stokes Company Inc., 1940. "For Victory, Buy United
States War Bonds and Stamps" - This book was produced under wartime
conditions, in full compliance with government regulations for the
conservation of paper and other essential materials.
First appearance of Drury Lane himself, his
associates, and his gift for disguise. Drury Lane, admittedly greater than life, is well
delineated, as well as his supporting cast and his ambience as the best parts of this book
concern these characters. It may not be as well known as the Queen books featuring Ellery
Queen. Fetching backgrounds (New York circa 1932), a
nasty murder method, and a
dandy sleuth: retired Shakespearean actor Drury Lane. His estate on the Hudson shows EQ's
interest in design, just like the references to Art Deco in
The French Powder Mystery. The plot deals
with three murders committed on transport (e.g. trams, ferries and trains), with the
murders themselves being peculiarly nasty (the first murder shows some of EQ's gift for
surrealistic mise-en-scène as it is committed by means of a nicotine-tipped-needle-filled
cork ball put into the victim's pocket), including Ellery Queen's first
"dying message" (the second would appear in
The Siamese Twin Mystery) - and
the ingenious. The finale is deductive, as in all of the early EQ books, but the solution
is somewhat far fetched, and the mystery plot is not especially imaginative.
both Conan Doyle's
A Study in Scarlet and one of the stories from G. K. Chesterton's The Innocence
of Father Brown.