"unpopularity" was apparently responsible for his demise after just four novels.
writing couples' decision
Lane's first appearance managed to evade the pitfall
Drury Lane was born in New Orleans,
La., Nov 3 1871 as son of Richard Lane, an American tragedian and
Kitty Purchell an English music-hall comedienne. Born prematurely in the
back of a second-rate stock theater "The Comus" when his father Richard
was travelling the world and his mother Kitty forced
to work to earn a
living. She died while giving birth. Raised by his father he
travelled from stage to stage it came as no surprise he performed
on stage at the early age of seven and had his first role of importance at the
age of 10 in Kiralfy's Enchantment (Boston Theatre). In 1887 his father died of pleuritis
giving his sixteen year
old son one last piece of advice: "Be an actor!"
"The Hamlet" is a castle, surrounded with a miniature village full of people who wear Elizabethan dress and answer to Shakespearean names - and living on Lane's bounty. Every house a copy of an Elizabethan house with thatched roofs,... perfect gardens included. Everything was old and smelled of England, the England of Elisabeth. His residence is described as if it were the mansion in Citizen Kane. Somewhat smaller in size but certainly not less imposing. Still unsatisfied with having recreated Shakespeare's physical world and incapable of creating dramatic world like the master, Lane intervenes in the dramas real life offers and in a sense rewrites them. "From obeying the jerk of the master's strings, I now have the impulse to pull the strings myself, in a greater authorship than created drama". His "raison d'être" being power, to overwhelm audiences with his performances. The power to control, control the life of his servants down to their names and to change the outcome of his life-and-dead drama's by his presence. In short he wants to be more powerful than Shakespeare himself.
Long, slim and extremely vital and despite his 60 years looked more like 40 despite his thick white hair. His strong classical face was youthful and had no wrinkles. His sharp, deep-set grey green eyes didn't give away his age.
Left: Drury Lane - detail from the cover of The Philadelphia Inquirer Newspaper Novel 1941. Art by W. V. Chambers.
His is being assisted by Falstaff the butler and the balding "hunchback" Quacey, who for 40 years served as his wigmaker and make-up artist. Depending on the situation was addressed as "Caliban" or "Quasimodo".
The first novels don't even mention the existence of Inspector Thumms' daughter but in the third novel this changes. Miss Patience Thumm, the Inspector's lovely and brainy daughter, who had spent her childhood and adolescence in Europe, returns to New York after ten years and joins her father's own detective agency. The ten years hiatus between Y and Z is not substantiated by the first two books who are clearly not set in the twenties. Barnaby Ross had a change of heart and introduced Patience to take over the sleuthing from Lane himself. The ideas for the two last books are fine only due to haste and lack of consideration they don't work as well as their predecessors.
The 1942 Grosset & Dunlap edition of The Tragedy of Z
had an "Author's Note" by Ellery Queen
explaining what Drury did in the hiatus: "...
In the intervening period Drury Lane solved many strange and perplexing
cases, the more interesting of which will be recorded at some future time."