Queen's Bureau of Investigation: the Casebook

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1931-1966   BARNABY ROSS    To list

Barnaby Ross was in many ways a sidekick invented by two clever marketing men. In the tradition of his illustrious colleague he soon went on tour to discuss with Ellery Queen several cases put to them by an unsuspecting audience. Those cases, some of them fictional, kept audiences sitting on the edge of their seats and kept, above all, media talking about the two writers who's identity was not yet unraveled. The identity-cultus set up by the cousins was intended to be confusing.  Barnaby Ross was heralded by two comments in Queen novels. The first of them in JJMcC's first foreword where he mentioned the fact that the inspector had given some (incognito) advice in the 'Barnaby Ross - murder case'. 
Nevins thinks the name Barnaby Ross might be an echo of the building in Elmira known as Barnaby's barn, which Dannay often played in as a child and which figures in his autobiographical novel 'The Golden Summer'.
Considered to be among EQ's finest work and true classics of the genre, it starred Drury Lane in four novels of 1932 - 1933.
It seems strange that many avid Queen followers never have 'gotten around' to read these. While it's safe to say that e.g. in Eastern countries the books still top the 'best of' lists today.
Eventually the Drury Lane series was republished under Ellery Queen's own name.

The Tragedy of X  (1931)

The Tragedy of X - coverEveryone saw Longstreet die, but no one saw the killer! Inspector Thumm's few clues all led up a blind alley. He finally sought the aid of Drury Lane, retired Shakespearean acto, 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.

First appearance of Drury Lane. Introduces the classic Queenian motif of the "dying message," Elaborate mystery in this book, involving three complex murders, with a somewhat far fetched solution.

The Tragedy of Y (1932)

The Tragedy of Y - Q.B.I.The Mad Hatters of Washington Square were not only mad but vicious "nasty people" . So when the worst of the lot, old Emily Hatter, was found murdered, no one was particularly upset, except possibly Louisa Campion, her deaf, dumb, and blind daughter by a former marriage. Inspector Thumm turned in desperation to his old friend Drury Lane, the famous actor, whose brilliant analysis and solution of the case proved "The Tragedy of Y" a tragedy indeed.

Seems to be a case of murder by a dead man. EQ's first mathematics-based solution which seems related to EQ's deep commitment to logic and reasoning.

The Tragedy of Z (1933)

The Tragedy of Z - Q.B.I.Detection by rule of Thumm. Senator Fawcett, a man with many enemies, is found stabbed to death in his study. Inspector Thumm and his daughter Patience try to unravel the web of circumstantial evidence that has enmeshed an innocent man. Patience refuses to be beaten by a lack of evidence, and with the help of Drury Lane, finally stops an execution and brings the true criminal to justice

The first of the two Drury Lane novels which lean rather heavily on Inspector Thumm's daughter, Patience. "It's great glory is the finale, where the detective moves through great chains of evidence to deduce the killer. " (Michael E.Grost)

Drury Lane's Last Case (1933)

Drury Lane's Last Case - Q.B.I.Ellery Queen challenges you to solve these clues to death. A thin envelope--worth a man's life. A shattered display case--whose stolen contents a thief replaced with a strange manuscript. The murder symbol: 3HS wM-...the queer cipher found to be an old mark of death. These are but a few of the baffling signs Drury Lane follows down a path of deception and murder to one of the most startling climaxes in mystery fiction!

Possibly the most intriguing and gripping plotline of the series. It's a tricky matter to the solution logically rather than through mere guesswork, and the logical clues are all there to be read. EQ's writing is here at a peak--the notion that characterization and emotion in his early work were shortchanged is neatly demolished by this tome.

Other books have been published under the name of Barnaby Ross, all are harder to find and of the same quality as the non-Queen novels. " Perhaps the cousins choose to 'use' the name Barnaby Ross instead of Ellery Queen, as they normally did with ghostwritten stories, since they consisted not of detective stories but of pseudo-historical stories. Each set in another historical timeframe, these stories were ghostwritten by Don Tracy (who frequently published such 'pulp' under his own name).

Quintin Chivas    (1961)

Quintin Chivas - Q.B.I.At eleven he was the leader of a gang of child thieves in teeming fifteenth-century Naples. Without scruples, he had already set his goals. There were only two kinds of people--those at the top who could reach down to give him a hand up, and those at the bottom who were convenient stepping stones. Both kinds he understood perfectly. But neither understood him--until it was too late!"

Historical novel of 15th century Naples, Italy. The story of an 11 year old boy from the slums and what all he did to achieve a life of luxury.

 

The Scrolls of Lysis    (1962)

The Scrolls of Lysis - Q.B.I.Myrrha was silent except for an occasional obscenity directed at poor Limon as we staggered to their apartment and into the bedroom where we let our sodden burden fall onto the wide couch. She was silent, too, as she turned to face me, then reached up to unfasten the pin that held her chiton and undergarments. They fell in a pool at her feet.

Set in ancient Greece circa 394 B.C. where Thamus, a smart teenage scholar with a deformed foot lives on the island of Gyarus. His old teacher Lysis is an exiled wiseman who has has been writing some serious prophecies onto scrolls which only ...

 

The Duke of Chaos    (1964)

The Duke of Chaos - coverWallenstein was a military genius, though for most of his life fate conspired against his career. Convinced that his future had been ordained by the stars, he employed as a personal astrologer a charlatan who was secretly in the pay of his worst enemies. He sought women, or perhaps it was the other way around, in much the same way that he sought martial glory. But he had an absolute genius for choosing the wrong ones.
He married several large fortunes, yet dissipated them and died almost penniless. But he lived his life to the hilt -- in the pursuit of military spoils and the pleasures of the flesh. It is perhaps debatable at which he was the more adept.
He was a soldier of fortune, one of the best. They called him the Duke of Chaos.

 

Strange Kinsip    (1965)

Strange Kinship - coverA wounded Confederate Officer comes from war to a time of violence and horror. I walked every step of the way, wounded leg and all. For some the fall of Vicksburg was merely another in a long series of reversals, but for me it was the end of a senseless struggle that had forever soured me on the glories of even a gallant war.
What would I find when I got home to Great Bay, the land that I loved razed by a merciless foe, a town peopled only by ghosts? ... If I'd known the grotesque horror that lay before me, I'd have happily turned back into the jaws of hell!

 

The Cree From Minataree    (1965)The Cree from the Minataree - cover (December 1965)

Five men deep in the wilderness. Behind them lay what civilization there was to be found in New France. Ahead, though only one of them was aware of it, lurked one of the most bloodthirsty tribes in all of the Great Lakes area. Their mission was to chart and explore unknown territory -- and only four would return. Who would be left behind?

 

The Passionate Queen - cover (June 1966)The Passionate Queen    (1966)

The Passionate Queen: Margaret Of Anjou. The novel of a determined woman's fierce struggle to protect the crown of England.

   

 

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