he Tragedy of Z
Detection by rule of Thumm. Brooding over the quiet countryside of Tilden County in upstate New York stand the grim walls of Algonquin Prison. And on the very day that Senator Fawcett, a man with many enemies, is found stabbed to death in his study, a little man is released from that prison. Inspector Thumm and his daughter Patience, who have accepted a commission from Elihu Clay to look into the affairs of his "silent partner," try to unravel the web of circumstantial evidence that has enmeshed an innocent man. But time grows short, and John Hume, the District Attorney and the Senator's political opponent, finds a quick conviction expedient. Patience refuses to be beaten by a lack of evidence, and with the help of her father's old friend, Drury Lane, finally stops an execution and brings the true criminal to justice
She wanted to scream but she didn't. She just
starred in fascinated horror at the second murdered man she had seen in her life. What she
saw was a man lying with cold, dead eyes staring wide at the ceiling, while from the chest
jutted the handle of a knife. The senator lay before her with the knife buried up to the
hilt in his still warm body. This was a murder with national repercussions. He had
hundreds of political enemies. Any one of them could be the murderer. Drury Lane, the brilliant criminologist, had to come up with a lead in a
tangle of faulty clues. Patty, a luscious, wandering blonde with
melting blue eyes was on his side- and she was a very necessary aide in one of the most
"An admirable mystery story, stimulating and exciting."
-- Eastern Dialy Press.
"The Book has a plot as rich as ever, it is packed with meaty, readable descriptive writing as formerly. ... We still hold to the unshaken belief that Ross is one of the best writers of detective fiction extant"
-- Providence Journal.
"As exceptionally well written, as exciting in development, and as finely deductive as its predecessors. ... Mr. Ross rates head and shoulders above most other American detective story writers." -- Milton Proppes, Philadelphia Record.
Top row left to
right: Both dust cover and hard cover for Viking Press, dust and
hard cover for Grosset &
Dunlap (confirmatation needed) (early Barnaby Ross reprint)
Bottom row left to right: dust and hard cover for Grosset & Dunlap, dust cover and hard cover for Little & Brown. (Click on the covers to see the differences) *
| Long Island
Sunday Press - "Books" by Gremin Zorn March 26. 1933.
"PATIENCE THUMM TAKES DRURY LANE'S PLACE
Patience Thumm, daughter of Inspector Thumm, proves herself a competent detective in "The Tragedy of Z" (Viking) by Barnaby Ross, but she is by no means as attractive as the actor-sleuth, Drury Lane, to whom she goes for advice on some difficult points.
In "The Tragedy of X" and "The Tragedy of Y," old Drury was delightful as he quoted Shakespeare and the murder. Patience is half-baked and snooty. The violence occurs in an up-state town and concerns a considerable amount of political scandal."
The 1942 Grosset & Dunlap edition of The Tragedy of Z
had an "Author's Note" by Ellery Queen.
"The publication of this third novel in the Drury Lane trilogy makes a brief word of explanation necessary.
The cases entitled The Tragedy of X and The Tragedy of Y occurred very close to each other in point of time.
But the Tragedy of Z took ten years in the making. By that I mean that a full decade elapsed before a problem arose which made possible a title consistent with the titles of the first two.
In the intervening period Drury Lane solved many strange and perplexing cases, the more interesting of which will be recorded at some future time."
Sadly, to our knowledge no such cases were published. The Drury Lane serial didn't stop at a trilogy as, in total, 4 novels were published.
This is the first of the two Drury Lane novels which lean rather heavily on Inspector Thumm's daughter, Patience.
|The Tragedy of Z (1933) is the most impressive of the Drury Lane novels. Its great glory is the finale, where the detective moves through great chains of evidence to deduce the killer. One would hope there would be more finales like this in detective fiction, where logical deduction reigns supreme; but unfortunately it has all too infrequently been taken as a model. Of all mystery writers, Ellery Queen is the one most interested in reason. Logical deduction is the very essence of the Queen universe. (Michael E.Grost)|
|America : A Catholic Review of
the Week - May 20. 1933
"A State prison, the city surrounding it, crooked politicians, the murder of one of them: these comprise the setting for 'The Tragedy of Z' (Viking. $2.00). Barnaby Ross has not done so well with this, the third of his Drury Lane stories. The former Shakespearean actor is much older in this mystery, and has not the prominence granted him in earlier stories, which may have lessened the attractiveness of this one. However, the author has not chosen an appealing method of telling this adventure, and at times seems to be endeavoring to write with a slightly salacious 'slant.' Many of the clues are improbable, and on the whole the story seems to be quite weak."
|Above: Add in newspaper by The Viking Press for The Tragedy of Z by Barnaby Ross.|
Other articles on this book
(1) Reading Ellery Queen - The Tragedy of Z Jon Mathewson (Nov 2013)
(2) The Z Ho-Ling (Feb 2016)
(3) The Tragedy of Z Dead Yesterday blog July 28, 2020
(4) The Tragedy of Zzzzzzz Brad Friedman (Oct 23. 2018)
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