1936-1939 ELLERY QUEEN
The victim had lived two lives, but a single knife-thrust ended both of them. The trail of suspicion led into the guilt-edged world of the beautiful people--and climaxed in a vicious courtroom battle that ended with a shattering verdict. It seemed that for the first time Ellery had met his match--until the sleuth blended his usual impeccable logic with a most unusual fling at love to bait a trap to tempt the bizarre tastes of an extraordinary murderer.
EQ's writing is getting more into character and personality now, although the puzzles are still first-rate.
Karen Leith was died quite alone, in a small secluded room in her weird Greenwich Village house. It was, of course, suicide. Some hideous secret long ago had transformed Karen into a silent, unhappy woman. Ellery was one of the few who doubted the suicide theory. As he followed a strange and devious trail to the solution he found out why she was so dangerous to one person that she had to die.
Despite Ellery's brilliant solution(s) to the classic "locked room" mystery too much based on guesswork rather than deduction. Movie Ellery Queen, Master Detective (greatly altered).
Devil to Pay (1938)
When Solly Spaeth was murdered, thousands cheered. He was a most popular corpse. Solly's stock manipulations had ruined many, including his partner. Even before Ellery Queen entered the case, there were too many suspects. The case was almost too easy for the police--until Ellery began asking embarrassing questions. But in finding the answers to those questions, Queen found the murderer.
The first of the Hollywood EQs, and the first to have vaguely political overtones. How odd that the police did not catch the rather elementary clues that EQ did. Movie: "Ellery Queen and the Perfect Crime".
It was a script that could only have come from Hollywood: the wedding of two superstars after a scandal-filled courtship...a wild trip by private plane to a hideaway...a deadly double overdose of drugs... These corpses weren't play-acting. Once again Ellery was cast in the role of master detective, as he found nothing was quite what it seemed in the never-never land of moviedom--except sudden, violent death.
EQ still in Hollywood, picks up where "The Devil To Pay" left off. Marvelously twisted plotting a throwback to the earlier Queens, with the final revelations fairly deducible from the clues.
aka he Virgin Heiresses (1939)
One girl was a dazzling creature from Hollywood with a talent for attracting handsome men and ugly violence. The other was fresh from the French Riviera, where she specialized in sophisticated fun and games. Ellery had a dead millionaire on his hands, two beautiful warring female hellcats on his back, and danger tightening its embrace as he put his body on the line to find out which of his two suspects was far more deadly than any male.
False identities, including an imposter Ellery Queen! A bit cartoonish. The ultimate deductions take a bit of a leap, but the romance/marriage subplot is compelling.