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The Dutch Shoe Mystery

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Queen visits an operating theater to witness a surgery, but finds a murder instead The son of a police detective, Ellery Queen grew up in a bloody atmosphere. Since he started lending his deductive powers to the New York City homicide squad, he has seen more than his fair share of mangled corpses. Though he is accustomed to gore, the thought of seeing a living person sliced Queen visits an operating theater to witness a surgery, but finds a murder instead The son of a police detective, Ellery Queen grew up in a bloody atmosphere. Since he started lending his deductive powers to the New York City homicide squad, he has seen more than his fair share of mangled corpses. Though he is accustomed to gore, the thought of seeing a living person sliced open makes him ill. So when a doctor invites him to sit in on an operation, Queen braces his stomach. As it happens, his stomach is spared, but his brain must go to work. The patient is Abigail Doorn, a millionairess in a diabetic coma. To prepare her for surgery, the hospital staff has stabilized her blood sugar level and wheeled her to the operating theater—but just before the first incision, the doctors realize she is dead, strangled while lying unconscious on her gurney. Queen came to the hospital to watch surgeons work, but now it’s his time to operate.


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Queen visits an operating theater to witness a surgery, but finds a murder instead The son of a police detective, Ellery Queen grew up in a bloody atmosphere. Since he started lending his deductive powers to the New York City homicide squad, he has seen more than his fair share of mangled corpses. Though he is accustomed to gore, the thought of seeing a living person sliced Queen visits an operating theater to witness a surgery, but finds a murder instead The son of a police detective, Ellery Queen grew up in a bloody atmosphere. Since he started lending his deductive powers to the New York City homicide squad, he has seen more than his fair share of mangled corpses. Though he is accustomed to gore, the thought of seeing a living person sliced open makes him ill. So when a doctor invites him to sit in on an operation, Queen braces his stomach. As it happens, his stomach is spared, but his brain must go to work. The patient is Abigail Doorn, a millionairess in a diabetic coma. To prepare her for surgery, the hospital staff has stabilized her blood sugar level and wheeled her to the operating theater—but just before the first incision, the doctors realize she is dead, strangled while lying unconscious on her gurney. Queen came to the hospital to watch surgeons work, but now it’s his time to operate.

30 review for The Dutch Shoe Mystery

  1. 5 out of 5

    Luffy

    Well well well! Third book in the Ellery Queen mystery series read. This one gets 3 stars, while the second one, 'The French Powder Mystery' received 4 stars. There a gulf between the two, in terms of deduction-the quality and brilliancy of it all. At first I felt betrayed. Firstly because no reflection from the hero detective was forthcoming with the solvency of the case. Ellery Queen remained tight-lipped most of the time. Also, once explained, the mystery felt easy to solve. But in the earlies Well well well! Third book in the Ellery Queen mystery series read. This one gets 3 stars, while the second one, 'The French Powder Mystery' received 4 stars. There a gulf between the two, in terms of deduction-the quality and brilliancy of it all. At first I felt betrayed. Firstly because no reflection from the hero detective was forthcoming with the solvency of the case. Ellery Queen remained tight-lipped most of the time. Also, once explained, the mystery felt easy to solve. But in the earliest chapter the chronicler assured me that this was Ellery's most taxing case yet. That it was more difficult to solve than previous cases. Not a chance. Blatantly false advertising, is all. But I couldn't feel cheated for long, because I realise that in the title itself, the authors present an obvious clue, one which I disregarded because, fair enough, I was engrossed in the story, and it's rare that I solve a case prematurely, in cold blood. The authors do like some variety in their books. In their first book the Dad Queen was first on the scene of crime. He got single billing for a while before his prodigal son turns up. In the second book, both appear together. In this book, Ellery Queen innocently visits a doctor friend and happens to find himself in the star case of this book. The timing of inspiration for solving the murders in one swoop falls to our hero in a different place in the book. This is the first time that two murders occur in the story. I'm going to compare Ellery Queen-the two authors- with Dame Agatha Christie. I read most of the Poirot books in my mid teens. I found most of them of the highest order, and I found it not easy to be discerning in rating and ranking them. Only the very bad, like 'The Big Four' would I find 'not excellent'. But though Ellery Queen stories are of about the same quality and regularity, I' giving them my -relatively- new found discernment. I enjoy these books with less fervor but I'm happy whenever a great crime mystery novel presents itself.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Teri-K

    Entertaining mystery that jumps into the action pretty quickly and moves well. There were a couple of chapters that just repeated all the facts and alibis of the story so far, but since there were several murders, an unknown person to trace and some other mysterious goings-on between suspects, it stayed interesting. I didn't completely figure out who did it until late in the story, but I did correctly interpret some of the clues, including the shoes. This wouldn't be a bad Ellery Queen novel to Entertaining mystery that jumps into the action pretty quickly and moves well. There were a couple of chapters that just repeated all the facts and alibis of the story so far, but since there were several murders, an unknown person to trace and some other mysterious goings-on between suspects, it stayed interesting. I didn't completely figure out who did it until late in the story, but I did correctly interpret some of the clues, including the shoes. This wouldn't be a bad Ellery Queen novel to start reading the series with; it has all the usual characters, plus the section towards the end where the author challenges the reader to figure it out. These books don't have particularly good characterization, they're more about the puzzling plot. Being first published in the 1930's they do give the reader a nice sense of the times, however.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Lovely clean book, newly published by Otto Penzler Presents -- Exciting, yes? Not for this reader. It is somewhat amusing to read of misconceptions about diabetic treatment, I suppose, but not when a diabetic lady philanthropist dies awaiting surgery. By strangulation. And then there were two. Ellery Queen and his son are on the spot. "'Where's Dr. Janney? Are you going to stand there all day and--let me speak with Janney a moment, son!' Deep silence from Ellery, 'Well!' exclaimed the Inspector. Lovely clean book, newly published by Otto Penzler Presents -- Exciting, yes? Not for this reader. It is somewhat amusing to read of misconceptions about diabetic treatment, I suppose, but not when a diabetic lady philanthropist dies awaiting surgery. By strangulation. And then there were two. Ellery Queen and his son are on the spot. "'Where's Dr. Janney? Are you going to stand there all day and--let me speak with Janney a moment, son!' Deep silence from Ellery, 'Well!' exclaimed the Inspector. Ellery said slowly, 'You cant very well speak with Janney, dad.' 'Why? Where is he? Isn't he there?' 'I was trying to explain when you stopped me before...He's here, very much here,' said Ellery grimly, 'but the reason he can't talk to you is--well, he's dead.' 'DEAD?' 'Or somewhere in the fourth dimension...'Ellery's tone was one of profound depression, despite the flippancy of his words....'Dad, he was murdered thirty minutes ago!' Abigail Doorn, Dr. Francis Janney...Two murders now instead of one. Inspector Queen was sunk in a black slough of reflection as the heavy police car, commandeered outside the District Attorney's office, dashed uptown to the Dutch Memorial Hospital."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Joana

    Nice detective story.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    Another good mystery.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    It seems I'm forever criticizing books which begin with great promise, but do not follow through with the qualities they began with. The reason: most books are like this, and most particularly, those of the mystery genre. While in the midst of The Dutch Shoe Mystery, I thought that perhaps this would be among the select books I keep in my library because they're so good . . . that this was the kind of story that justified being a mystery fan. Ellery Queen builds a deliciously enticing puzzle, an It seems I'm forever criticizing books which begin with great promise, but do not follow through with the qualities they began with. The reason: most books are like this, and most particularly, those of the mystery genre. While in the midst of The Dutch Shoe Mystery, I thought that perhaps this would be among the select books I keep in my library because they're so good . . . that this was the kind of story that justified being a mystery fan. Ellery Queen builds a deliciously enticing puzzle, and succeeds in breathing life into his characters (of which he is one). Though I usually disparage trying to solve the mystery in a detective novel, I was moved to read parts of the novel over again, looking for evidence to support a pet theory. But in his solution, Mr. Queen comes too close to committing one of the fatal blunders of fictional ratiocination. And here I must insert a S P O I L E R A L E R T! I've forgotten whether this is one of Ronald Knox's ten rules for detective story writers; if not, it should be. The culprit must be a substantial character in the story so that the reader has some basis for inferring culpability based on personality and motive. In this case, the killer is barely more than a cardboard functionary; we learn nothing of this person's character, and the deductions which lead to the solution are purely physical. Thus, after intriguing investigations into various interesting characters, the plot dwindles to the status of a crossword puzzle. For better Queens, try Cat of Many Tails and The Origin of Evil.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    COUNTDOWN: Mid-20th Century North American Crime BOOK 241 (of 250) HOOK - 1: "Inspector Richard Queen's alter ego, which was in startling contrast with his ordinarily spry and practical old manner, often prompted him to utter didactic remarks on the general subject of criminology...." And the author(s) yammer on about not much of anything. If this weren't an 'Ellery Queen' novel (I bought it at a used book store for a buck), it'd be in the trashcan after page one. PACE - 1: It's only at the end wh COUNTDOWN: Mid-20th Century North American Crime BOOK 241 (of 250) HOOK - 1: "Inspector Richard Queen's alter ego, which was in startling contrast with his ordinarily spry and practical old manner, often prompted him to utter didactic remarks on the general subject of criminology...." And the author(s) yammer on about not much of anything. If this weren't an 'Ellery Queen' novel (I bought it at a used book store for a buck), it'd be in the trashcan after page one. PACE - 1: It's only at the end when one realizes the entire book is much ado about nothing, really. PLOT - 2: A patient is murdered while on the operating table in an anteroom, the doctors are getting ready to move her into the operating theater. It's cold, this novel, sterile, much like an operating room should be. Hence a 2nd star. But it's an unpleasant read. CHARACTERS - 2: I like Inspector Queen and his son. But there isn't a single character in this novel bringing any warmth or personality to the story. The motive for murder? Nope, doesn't work. ATMOSPHERE - 1: A cold, sterile hospital populated with cold, sterile people without motives to do much more than get out of bed in the morning. Yes, that's communicated perfectly. This one feels just ugly. Summary: My rating is 1.4. This might be Queen's weakest work that I've read. Most of all, it's the rather ridiculous motive, or completely lack thereof.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joelle Egan

    Penzler Press is releasing The Dutch Shoe Mystery as part of its series of Ellery Queen mysteries, arguably the American paragon of Golden Age Mystery writing. Written by two cousins in the mid/post- World War Era, these puzzlers were extremely popular with readers in their day, and the Ellery Queen Magazine based on them is still being published. Each of the stories follow the same formula: a crime occurs that is seemingly impossible to decipher; writer Ellery and his Police Inspector father co Penzler Press is releasing The Dutch Shoe Mystery as part of its series of Ellery Queen mysteries, arguably the American paragon of Golden Age Mystery writing. Written by two cousins in the mid/post- World War Era, these puzzlers were extremely popular with readers in their day, and the Ellery Queen Magazine based on them is still being published. Each of the stories follow the same formula: a crime occurs that is seemingly impossible to decipher; writer Ellery and his Police Inspector father collect clues and conduct interviews; there is a summary of the clues along with a challenge to the reader to solve the mystery; the story culminates with a satisfying revelation of the responsible party and a detailed explanation of how the crime was committed. In The Dutch Shoe Mystery, Ellery and Richard Queen are challenged by the murder of a wealthy matriarch just as she was being prepped for surgery at the hospital she financially supported. The family of the woman and other suspects are introduced and questioned about their connections and whereabouts. An abundance of contradictory clues and artifacts are discovered that seem to make the case impenetrable. During the investigation, one of the main suspects also ends up being killed, and the sleuths are confounded by hidden motives and misdirection. Due to the notoriety of the victims, Ellery and Richard are also under pressure from the mayor and DA to solve the case as quickly as possible. Despite some antiquated attitudes and questionable portrayals of women and minorities, the Ellery Queen mysteries are a quaint reminder of classic mystery storytelling. They are a flashback to a time when a good mystery was considered an opportunity for cerebral exercise rather than a chance to merely shock the reader. Fans of Christie, Doyle and other classics would enjoy The Dutch Shoe Mystery and the other Penzler reissues of these entertaining titles. Thanks to Edelweiss and Penzler for an ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bev

    The Dutch Shoe Mystery (1931) by Ellery Queen takes place in the Dutch Memorial Hospital in New York City. It features not one, but two murders carried out--practically under the nose of Ellery Queen himself (in the first instance) and a whole posse of NYC policemen (in the second). The hospital's wealthy benefactress, Abigail Doorn has an accident that requires an emergency gall bladder operation. Since she is a diabetic and her health is a bit fragile there is some concern, but her surgeon, Dr The Dutch Shoe Mystery (1931) by Ellery Queen takes place in the Dutch Memorial Hospital in New York City. It features not one, but two murders carried out--practically under the nose of Ellery Queen himself (in the first instance) and a whole posse of NYC policemen (in the second). The hospital's wealthy benefactress, Abigail Doorn has an accident that requires an emergency gall bladder operation. Since she is a diabetic and her health is a bit fragile there is some concern, but her surgeon, Dr. Francis Janney, is absolutely confident that she will pull through the operation with no problem. Ellery has stopped by the hospital to consult his friend Dr. John Minchen over a medical point impacting another case and is asked if he would like to watch the operation. The men sit in the operating theater and watch as the patient is brought in. Ellery immediately notices her odd coloring--but puts it down to her ill-health until Dr. Janney bends over the patient, turns and crooks a "forefinger furiously toward Dr. Minchen." Ellery's friend rushes down to the operating table, looks at the neck of the patient (where Janney drew his attention), and then beckons to Ellery. Ellery rose. His eyebrows went up. His lips formed one soundless word, which Minchen caught. Dr. Minchen nodded. The word was: "Murder?" Yes, it's murder. Someone, somehow has managed to strangle the elderly woman without the hospital staff noticing until that moment in the operating theater. It's soon revealed that Dr. Janney visited the patient in the prep room prior to surgery and was left alone with her while the attending nurse exited the room on his indication of a need of sterilization materials for his hands (no words were exchanged--gestures were all that were necessary). This, the doctor denies categorically--as Ellery and Minchen know he was called away to attend to a visitor during the time period indicated. And when a discarded set of doctor's clothes, including the cap and mask, are found in the hallway telephone booth, it begins to look like the killer masqueraded as Janney, imitating his characteristic limp, in order to create the opportunity for their deed. Ellery sorts through all the clues--including the impostor's white canvas shoes with broken lace and folded back tongues--and all the suspects. The suspects include Dr. Janney, Dr. Minchen, Dr. Kneisel (all of whom benefit directly or indirectly from the woman's will), Hulda Doorn (Abigail's daughter), Sarah Fuller (Abigail's companion--who has had an on again, off again raging argument for years), the mysterious Mr. Swanson with whom Janney met (and whom Janney will not assist the police in finding...), and various members of the hospital staff. Ellery thinks that he has begun to see daylight when Dr. Janney is murdered, strangled in exactly the same way as Mrs. Doorn. This time while sitting peacefully at his desk. Ellery is stumped by how the murderer managed to slip behind Janney to deliver the knock-out blow (which allowed the murderer to strangle his victim with no fuss). There's no window behind the desk. In fact, when Ellery enters the doctor's office there is absolutely nothing behind the desk except a blank wall. He can't see a legitimate reason for anyone to go behind the doctor while he was at his desk. It isn't until Dr. Minchen idly mentions that something was removed before Ellery arrived on the scene that our detective has his eureka moment. This is a decent mystery outing for Ellery. The initial set-up and the two murders are portrayed well. And I'll go along with Ellery's wrap-up. Mostly. One thing Ellery didn't explain: what exactly did the murderer hit Janney upside the head with? According to Dr. Prouty, he was hit by "some heavy blunt instrument" [emphasis mine]. What on earth could the murderer have carried back there (in their legitimate mission explained by Ellery) that wouldn't arouse Janney's interest? "I say, what are you doing with that hammer [insert any suitable blunt object]..." And, apparently, it was something they carried in and out with them because there wasn't anything in the room that was identified as a possible weapon or anything mentioned as missing (like, say, a paperweight always kept on the desk). Also, I cry foul on the "you have all the evidence" business. Yes, I figured out the main part. But there is a final piece of evidence (which I can't mention without spoiling) that I don't see how the reader was supposed figure out. After all--we didn't get to actually see a certain bit of evidence that is vital. Also, I couldn't figure out the relationship between two characters based on what we were actually told and shown--and it's a relationship that's kind of important to the whole motive thing. I agree with Ben over at The Green Capsule that there is way too much mulling, interviewing, and reviewing the evidence going on in between murders and solution. If the point was fair play to the reader--waving evidence under our noses repeatedly--then it doesn't come off (see previous paragraph). In actuality, this 305 page book could have been cut to maybe 250 (251, if we add in a portion to at least hint a bit better at the crucial piece of evidence). Still, it was a good plot with a nice bit of misdirection. So-- ★★★ for a solid, mid-range mystery. First posted on my blog My Reader's Block. Please request permission before posting any review content. Thanks.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anastasia

    The Dutch Shoe Mystery by Ellery Queen is the 3rd book in the Ellery Queen Mystery series. Ellery Queen has been invited to observe an operation but finds that the patient has been murdered while waiting to be wheeled into the operating theatre. An interesting mystery buit I thought the clues were a bit obscure and the motive weak. I like the challenge to the reader but did not feel that we were given enough information. A bit dated now and rather drawn out for my liking.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Roger

    What can I say, it's an Ellery Queen mystery! A a satisfying fair-play whodunnit with all the clues, characters, and a challenge to the reader to figure it out (I got it right!). The murder in this one takes place in a hospital, and initially everyone - doctors, nurses, staff, visitors, even patients - are suspect. Very entertaining and readable, a page-turner. Not the best Ellery Queen I've read (that was The Cat of Many Tails), but good enough for 4.9 stars. What can I say, it's an Ellery Queen mystery! A a satisfying fair-play whodunnit with all the clues, characters, and a challenge to the reader to figure it out (I got it right!). The murder in this one takes place in a hospital, and initially everyone - doctors, nurses, staff, visitors, even patients - are suspect. Very entertaining and readable, a page-turner. Not the best Ellery Queen I've read (that was The Cat of Many Tails), but good enough for 4.9 stars.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Markku

    Clever, but a bit old-fashioned detective story.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Vintagebooklvr

    2 1/2 stars. I had a really hard time getting into this one. Maybe it is the hospital setting or the multiple reports that just seemed to make this book drag on at times. But in the end, it is a clever piece of deduction like most of the Ellery Queen stories.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    No-frills early Queen—mystery and police procedure take front and center, and Ellery’s condescending erudition is less annoying here, though you still want to smack the pince-nez off his nose. You won’t solve it, but it works well.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    I enjoyed this more than I anticipated, and found it to be a rather quick read. In this caper, Ellery Queen, ably assisted by his father, Inspector Queen, and the what feels like the entire NYPD force, but solve a homicide that takes place in a small private hospital. This provides us with an urban version of a closed circle mystery, which we would normally expect to take place in a rambling country mansion. The author says that all of the clues are there to solve the mystery, and in terms of si I enjoyed this more than I anticipated, and found it to be a rather quick read. In this caper, Ellery Queen, ably assisted by his father, Inspector Queen, and the what feels like the entire NYPD force, but solve a homicide that takes place in a small private hospital. This provides us with an urban version of a closed circle mystery, which we would normally expect to take place in a rambling country mansion. The author says that all of the clues are there to solve the mystery, and in terms of simple deduction that is true. But I am slightly disappointed that some important information is withheld until the very end of the book, making it more difficult to come to the correct conclusion, albeit not impossible.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    When he is invited by a doctor friend to watch a surgery (it used to be a thing that was quite common) Ellery and the others in the audience are shocked to learn the patient is already dead from strangulation. Now his father the Inspector and Ellery are on the case! Only, what happens when a second murder is committed? Classic Queen fun. You may figure out part of the solution as I did, but I bet you don't completely solve it. Another terrific reissue from the American Mystery Classics line and When he is invited by a doctor friend to watch a surgery (it used to be a thing that was quite common) Ellery and the others in the audience are shocked to learn the patient is already dead from strangulation. Now his father the Inspector and Ellery are on the case! Only, what happens when a second murder is committed? Classic Queen fun. You may figure out part of the solution as I did, but I bet you don't completely solve it. Another terrific reissue from the American Mystery Classics line and Penzler Publishers.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rob Kitchin

    Published in 1931, The Dutch Shoe Mystery is the third book in the Ellery Queen series, jointly written by cousins, Frederic Dannay and Manfred Lee, under the pen-name of Ellery Queen. The series was considered one of the finest examples of a ‘fair play’ mysteries, with the reader presented with all of the clues available to the fictional detective so that they might solve it for themselves. Indeed, the book includes a ‘challenge to the reader’ page inserted near the end of the book, prior to th Published in 1931, The Dutch Shoe Mystery is the third book in the Ellery Queen series, jointly written by cousins, Frederic Dannay and Manfred Lee, under the pen-name of Ellery Queen. The series was considered one of the finest examples of a ‘fair play’ mysteries, with the reader presented with all of the clues available to the fictional detective so that they might solve it for themselves. Indeed, the book includes a ‘challenge to the reader’ page inserted near the end of the book, prior to the denouement, that asks them to try and identify the killer based on the clues revealed in the plot. The Dutch Shoe Mystery is a variation on the locked room mystery in that one of the workers, patients or visitors within the vicinity of the pre-op room must have perpetrated the crime and was almost certainly still present on its discovery. And the investigation soon reveals plenty of people present with the motive to murder the victim. The strength of the story is the intricate plot, which charts the detective’s investigation and reasoning. However, this offset somewhat by the dryness of the read, the fact that Ellery Queen is quite a difficult character to warm to, being somewhat aloof, snobbish and self-obsessed, and the fact that whole premise felt somewhat contrived in order to produce the puzzle. Nonetheless, an interesting read for the puzzle and challenge of solving it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nisha Singh

    I really liked this mystery. I very well know that there is a conspicuous absence of development of the protagonist and the other characters but the wonderful logical deductional chain is such a beauty that I forget about the other shortcomings. It reminds me of Dupin that by cold logical analysis, there is no mystery that cannot be unravelled. Ellery Queen have perfected this principle to an extent that till now I couldnt have thought it possible. In 'American Gun Mystery'too, they have excelle I really liked this mystery. I very well know that there is a conspicuous absence of development of the protagonist and the other characters but the wonderful logical deductional chain is such a beauty that I forget about the other shortcomings. It reminds me of Dupin that by cold logical analysis, there is no mystery that cannot be unravelled. Ellery Queen have perfected this principle to an extent that till now I couldnt have thought it possible. In 'American Gun Mystery'too, they have excelled in once again designing an intricate puzzle and then unravelling it with an exceptional skill, bit by bit, leaving no loose strings lying anywhere. Some may say, that reading the book is more of a chore than pleasure and to them I answer that its the definition of pleasure that's in question here. For me, pleasure is all about exercising my brain and following the trails of logic. For others, who prefer easy reading, it may sound like a chore. So I recommend them to read one of the thousands of Agatha Christie's as she has no dearth of cheap, low brow stuff where you can easily go through the story without calling your brain to attention. But for the rest like me who marvel at a seemingly insoluble puzzle and in the beauty of its resolution, Ellery Queen is a MUST READ!!!

  19. 5 out of 5

    William

    4.75 Stars Ellery Queen is a dork. That's where the lost quarter star comes from. Any character who says out loud "By the minotaur!" when contemplating a labyrinthine problem just isn't cool. They're trying to be, but they're failing hard. And that trying hard bit applies to Ellery Queen the author (really two people). Queen prose always feels stilted- and not in a good Pynchony way. It usually feels a tad corny. On the other hand, from a technical side, I think this is probably the single best Qu 4.75 Stars Ellery Queen is a dork. That's where the lost quarter star comes from. Any character who says out loud "By the minotaur!" when contemplating a labyrinthine problem just isn't cool. They're trying to be, but they're failing hard. And that trying hard bit applies to Ellery Queen the author (really two people). Queen prose always feels stilted- and not in a good Pynchony way. It usually feels a tad corny. On the other hand, from a technical side, I think this is probably the single best Queen puzzle plot I've read thus far. The deductions at the end spool out very naturally from the clues, and yet I hadn't the foggiest notion of the solution beforehand. And despite this fact, the mystery clocks in at 214 pages, displaying an economy of writing I don't normally associate with Queen. To be certain, I think the book could have been boiled down another 15-20 pages, but there's not much fat on the bone. Certainly recommended to Queen fans. Also recommended to other puzzle-plot mystery lovers with a tolerance for gee whiz, golly willikers, corniness.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel

    The wealthy benefactor of a successful hospital has fallen into a diabetic coma. She is wheeled into the operating theater for life-saving surgery only to be found dead by strangulation. All this right under the nose of Ellery Queen, who has come to observe the operation personally! Suspects abound, both within the hospital staff and from the family of the dear lady. There is even a link to organized crime! This case is a real intellectual knot for Ellery and, at points, he becomes resigned to ne The wealthy benefactor of a successful hospital has fallen into a diabetic coma. She is wheeled into the operating theater for life-saving surgery only to be found dead by strangulation. All this right under the nose of Ellery Queen, who has come to observe the operation personally! Suspects abound, both within the hospital staff and from the family of the dear lady. There is even a link to organized crime! This case is a real intellectual knot for Ellery and, at points, he becomes resigned to never solving the caper. But eventually, the fog clears and the perpetrator is brought to justice. And as is standard for all Ellery Queen stories, the clues are presented throughout the story to allow the reader an opportunity to solve the crime just before Ellery provides The Explanation. As usual, the book was a delight to read and puzzle over. This is the third Ellery Queen stories published, but I have found that they do not need to be read in order to be enjoyed.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Wayne

    One hallmark of the Ellery Queen books is the logical presentation of facts that explain what happened, why it happened and who the villain is. The solutions are not easy but they do make sense when explained. In this book in the series, the explanation is plausible but the scene of explanation is drawn out. I got bored with all the minute detail Ellery went into to explain how he reached his conclusions. In other words, this story got a bit too OCD for my taste. I am enjoying reading these nove One hallmark of the Ellery Queen books is the logical presentation of facts that explain what happened, why it happened and who the villain is. The solutions are not easy but they do make sense when explained. In this book in the series, the explanation is plausible but the scene of explanation is drawn out. I got bored with all the minute detail Ellery went into to explain how he reached his conclusions. In other words, this story got a bit too OCD for my taste. I am enjoying reading these novels. I just hope this minute attention to detail is not emphasized in all the remaining stories in the series.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tabby

    Ellery didn't have his usual sassy spotlight through this novel. It was quite a complex case since it was placed in a busy hospital which makes it harder for the writer to guide the reader in what seemed to me a rather less enjoyable plot. Still, all loose ends came to meet and the case was closed in a very Ellerish way. Ellery didn't have his usual sassy spotlight through this novel. It was quite a complex case since it was placed in a busy hospital which makes it harder for the writer to guide the reader in what seemed to me a rather less enjoyable plot. Still, all loose ends came to meet and the case was closed in a very Ellerish way.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tom Franklin

    Another Impossible whodunit from the writing team of EQ. This time the setting is a hospital with the victim being a wealthy patient who is found to be dead just before undergoing surgery. I caught at least half of the clues (or "clews" in the 1920s spelling) but still failed to identify the killer. Drats. Another Impossible whodunit from the writing team of EQ. This time the setting is a hospital with the victim being a wealthy patient who is found to be dead just before undergoing surgery. I caught at least half of the clues (or "clews" in the 1920s spelling) but still failed to identify the killer. Drats.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mmyoung

    When reading books that were, at one time, influential or popular it is often difficult for someone now to get what appealed to people then. I have written elsewhere about my frustrations on reading Ellery Queen. Although I had similar issues reading Philo Vance as I did Ellery Queen the two are notably different in that S. S. Van Dine’s popularity dropped precipitously several decades after he was first published while Queen, on the other hand, not only continued to be popular but went on to be When reading books that were, at one time, influential or popular it is often difficult for someone now to get what appealed to people then. I have written elsewhere about my frustrations on reading Ellery Queen. Although I had similar issues reading Philo Vance as I did Ellery Queen the two are notably different in that S. S. Van Dine’s popularity dropped precipitously several decades after he was first published while Queen, on the other hand, not only continued to be popular but went on to be very influential within the world of mystery writing. In this series of reviews I am trying to understand what made these books so popular at the time they were published, why the trajectories of their popularity were so different and why the modern reader receives them so differently than did their initial audience. Two authorial choices unite these series are the nature of the New Yorks in which they were set and the structures used by the authors allow the detective access to sites, evidence and witnesses and the reader access to the thoughts and actions of the detective. First, the nature of their New Yorks: It is difficult to keep in mind while reading the early works of Queen and Vance that they were published within a few years of Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon and Stout’s Fer-de-Lance. The former was published in 1930 and the latter, the first Nero Wolfe novel, was published in 1934. Those two books seem to have been written in a different universe than either that of Philo Vance or these Ellery Queen novels. One of the first things that strike one on reading either Vance or Queen is that they seem to be set in a world that is a strange amalgam of England and the United States. Both detectives work in New York City and both encounter the rather stereotypical individuals of New York -- the cops with the broad accents and apparently little education. Cab drivers and waiters have broad accents and cheerfully know their places. The rich, the upper classes, live with the same “different set” of rules as to members of the upper class in Ngaio Marsh’s. It is a New York without anything near the broad ethnic diversity one sees in Rex Stout and with a degree of deference from police officers towards “their betters" that no one shows in his books. Compare, if you will, Inspector Queen, with Inspector Cramer. Cramer doesn’t always get his man, true, but Cramer would not have put up with the affected manners and sense of privilege of either Vance or Queen. Reviewers and analysts of murder/detective mysteries refer to a type of novel as a ‘cozy.’ Cozies seem to be set in an alternative universe where all the nice things about the past continue to exist without any of its more unpleasant elements. In some the detectives themselves are an element of that sanitized nostalgia. Ngaio Marsh’s Inspector Alleyn is the son and brother of members of the aristocracy. He is a card carrying gentleman who interviews the upstairs folks while one of his men (often Inspector Fox) interviews the maids, the butler and the rest of the downstairs staff. Not only do servants defer but often the greatest supporters of the class system are members of the “peasantry” whose adherence to an outdated caste system allows for others (their betters) to be protected against that system being breached while presenting themselves as enlightened and even egalitarian. S. S. Van Dine and Ellery Queen can be argued to have been writing the American equivalent of the cozy, although in their cases this is masked by the fact that they set their murders in New York and present their detectives as world traveled and erudite. Make no mistake, though, these are cozies. In the world of Van Dine and Queen there is an attempt to transpose what the authors believe to be the English class system into the world of New York. The run-of-the-mill police officer in Queen treat Ellery with such a degree of respect that one imagines them tugging their forelocks when reporting to him. The idea that any of the monied and well-connected witnesses in the early Queen books would not have called their lawyers immediately upon being detained and questioned by a man whose only authority is a “pass” written out for him by his father is laughable. The idea that no one in the police force or at city hall would direct charges of nepotism and incompetence toward Inspector Queen is similarly ludicrous. However in these books the reader is assured that in a United States much changed over the last few decades, by immigration as well as the farm boys who returned from war duty overseas only to see their families wiped out by the crash of 1929. The New York of these American urban cozies seems far more like the moderate sized towns than many readers lived or grew up in. There are important families and, without doubt, those important families can exert pressure on the police. But this pressure isn’t presented as a form of corruption rather as the natural consequence of people being important and monied. The daughter of a rich man may be a “drug fiend”* but it isn’t portrayed as a form of inappropriate wielding of power and influence for the police to treat her differently than they would the daughter of a working class man. Second, the structural issues of both Van Dine and Queen: The further frustrating thing about the Ellery Queen novels arose from their very structure. The original conceit is that they are written, years after the actual occurrences by a friend who had not witnessed the actual cases. The manuscripts are supposedly based on the notes that Ellery kept of the cases and from the clippings he and his father kept from contemporary coverage. It thus makes no sense for the writer to not “open up” the mind of Queen throughout the book. Why is the reader kept ignorant of Ellery’s deductions and even some of the information he has until the final unfolding of the criminal? The authors may have felt that if the reader was aware of everything Ellery thought and witnessed the reader would not be attempting to solve the problem themselves they would be witnessing Ellery solving it. The books themselves are set up with the premise that at a certain point the reader has all the information necessary to deduce who “did it” and they are invited to work it out for themselves before turning the page. From that point on the reader is supposed to have a front row seat as Ellery demonstrates his superior abilities to deduce. This particular mystery demonstrates the problem with that format. The identity of the murderer and accomplice in the case of the first murder are actually quite obvious from the beginning if one ignores the author’s attempts to make Ellery’s questions and comments important and looks merely at the physical evidence. The authors make this difficult by having the behaviour of the police subsequent to the crime so unorganized and scattered that it is difficult to put together a coherent picture of the scene. In the case of the second murder the only person who could have committed it would have been immediately obvious if a major character had not changed the nature of the crime scene and if all the people who walked in and out of it had not been oblivious to the absence of key piece of furniture that they had either every reason to believe should be there and/or that they had actually seen themselves many times. This structure/conceit will be dropped over time. The problem that the authors face, the difficulty of presented someone as having an outstanding deductive brain and giving that person reasonable access to the information, sites and people necessary to solve the crime remained. Reading these books underlines the brilliance of the formula that Rex Stout devised for his Nero Wolfe books where it is Archie Goodwin’s POV that is presented to the reader and where much of the setup of many books involves giving Wolfe and Goodwin a reason to have the type of access given so unquestioningly to Ellery Queen and Philo Vance. If you want to amuse yourself imagine the field day any defense lawyer would have with evidence collected by and witnesses interviewed by someone who was not a sworn officer of the court and not a member of the police force. Of course these books were written long before the birth of the CSI franchise and it is likely that few readers would have heard of the concept of “chain of custody” but certainly any adequate lawyer would be able to call into question evidence and information gathered by the son of the man whose job would be in question if someone was not arrested with due speed. S. S. Van Dine’s alternative to access through nepotism is scarcely more palatable since his detective gains access to persons and places because of a private relationship with the DA. One imagines that defense lawyers would enjoy the opportunities this irregular relationship would give them to undermine any evidence Vance might have had access to and any statements made to witnesses in response to Vance’s questions. In summary, both the Philo Vance and Ellery Queen series provided for their readers the same type of reassuring universe that the English cozies did for theirs and neither solve the problem of how to entwine a private detective into the world of the police procedural. It will be interesting to see whether in future books the coziness continues and if the practical problems are handled more believably. * Drug Fiend is the authors term not mine. The demonization of drug taking, including misleading descriptions of its symptoms has a long history in American crime fiction.

  25. 4 out of 5

    EuroHackie

    Ellery Queen pays a visit to his friend. Dr. John Minchen, at Dutch Memorial Hospital. He's working on a case and has questions about rigor mortis. Dr. Minchen offers information that makes the solution clear to Ellery; he passes the info on to his father and settles in for a visit with his friend. Dr. Minchen invites Ellery to observe an upcoming operation by one of his colleagues, Dr. Janney. The patient is the patroness of the hospital, Abby Doorn. Ellery doesn't like the sight of blood, but Ellery Queen pays a visit to his friend. Dr. John Minchen, at Dutch Memorial Hospital. He's working on a case and has questions about rigor mortis. Dr. Minchen offers information that makes the solution clear to Ellery; he passes the info on to his father and settles in for a visit with his friend. Dr. Minchen invites Ellery to observe an upcoming operation by one of his colleagues, Dr. Janney. The patient is the patroness of the hospital, Abby Doorn. Ellery doesn't like the sight of blood, but his curiosity gets the better of him, so he accompanies Dr. Mannion to the observation gallery of the operative theatre. All seems to be going well, until the patient is wheeled into the room - and the OR team discovers that she's dead. Ellery immediate jumps into action, taking control of the scene until his father and the police can arrive. He starts questioning staff about what happened in the moments leading up to Mrs. Doorn's death - thanks to his newfound information about rigor mortis, he's able to narrow the time of death - and Dr. Janney quickly emerges as the prime suspect. Janney protests, saying that he couldn't have killed her because he was meeting with someone else at the time; how can he be in two places at once? Police find a bundle of dumped clothing - including the titular shoe - which seems to bear out the theory that someone impersonated Dr. Janney to enter the otherwise secured room. Mrs. Doorn is not only the patron of the Dutch Memorial Hospital, but she's a self-made millionaire with lots of powerful friends and allies. The police and DA's office come under immediate, heavy pressure to solve the case ASAP. There are plenty of suspects: the Doorn family, the staff at the hospital, even a local mobster. But when their prime suspect turns up dead, and even Ellery Queen himself is stumped, it becomes a race against time to prevent more killings. I enjoyed this book a lot more than the previous one. The plot moved at a good pace and there was precious little repetition. Ellery was also not nearly as insufferable, most likely because the case had driven him into despair because he couldn't work out how - or why - the original murder happened. As has become the norm in this genre, solving the second murder helps solve the first. By the time the fair-play challenge came along, I was fairly certain whodunit, but the motive was still a mystery. I read on, happy to find out that I'd been mostly correct, and the ultimate motive was absolutely, deliciously stone cold. As per usual, there was one clue that was not revealed to the reader in "real time," though I guess some people could've figured it out from some very opaque inferences. This story was nice and lean, in plot as well as in literary allusions. It feels like the series has found a comfortable stride after a couple of rough patches at the start, and I'll be interested to see if this is the start of smooth sailing, or merely a particularly smooth stone.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Eden Thompson

    From my book blog www.JetBlackDragonfly.blogspot.com Written in 1931 by Ellery Queen, this is the third in the series written by two American cousins from Brooklyn. They chose the pseudonym Ellery Queen for both their detective and the 'author' of the mysteries. Each of the first nine mysteries written has a place in the title, such as The Roman Hat Mystery and The French Powder Mystery. The character of Ellery is a mystery writer and amateur detective who helps his father, New York Police Inspec From my book blog www.JetBlackDragonfly.blogspot.com Written in 1931 by Ellery Queen, this is the third in the series written by two American cousins from Brooklyn. They chose the pseudonym Ellery Queen for both their detective and the 'author' of the mysteries. Each of the first nine mysteries written has a place in the title, such as The Roman Hat Mystery and The French Powder Mystery. The character of Ellery is a mystery writer and amateur detective who helps his father, New York Police Inspector Richard Queen, to solve baffling murders. The lead of over 30 novels, the Ellery Queen name was also used for popular detective anthologies founded by the cousins which continue to this day. In 1961 they were awarded the Grand Master Award by the Mystery Writers of America. These are mysteries in the classic 'Golden Age' style, meaning they are 'fair play whodunits' whose clues are revealed at the time they are to the detective himself, and with careful attention the answer to the puzzle could be deduced. Indeed each mystery includes a 'challenge to the reader' near the end of the book declaring the reader has been given all the clues Ellery had, and that only one single solution was possible, which can't be said of every mystery. In The Dutch Shoe Mystery, the richest woman in America is about to undergo a delicate operation. As benefactor of the hospital, she awaits the finest surgeon in a diabetic coma, as her anxious family awaits outside to operating room. The door is opened and her body is wheeled into the room - and the doctor sees she is dead - strangled with a wire! The hospital is locked down and everyone questioned. The doctor and nurse are above reproach, and state she was alive awaiting surgery moments before. It's a classic 'locked room' set-up. No one had entered the room. Ellery investigates a secret experiment in the basement run by a doctor whose funding was cut by the woman, a strange man who was visiting the head surgeon moments before has now disappeared, and various family relationships involving long lost sons are revealed. He even has time to add in a romantic entanglement. Complex and absorbing, I forgot to pay too much attention to whodunit, I just enjoyed the ride. There was so much that was puzzling, and it was so rich a novel, it's hard to believe it was written 84 years ago. On page 175 there is an Interlude 'in which the Queens take stock' to help you compose yourself - with space in the margins provided for your notes! By the time page 253 came around with the challenge to the reader (where Ellery breaks the fourth wall and addresses the reader directly), I had only a slim guess, and was truly surprised when I heard the solution. Perfect. Entertaining and unique - I haven't read a mystery so rich in a very long time.

  27. 4 out of 5

    JDL

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I have a bit of a weakness for mystery books set in hospitals; the other big hospital mystery I've read is Ngaio Marsh's Nursing Home Murder. This one starts out promisingly, with a complex murder scheme and seemingly only three articles of discarded clothing, a pair of trousers and two shoes, to aid Ellery Queen (and you) in finding the true culprit. Tension heats up a bit when a second murder is committed, and a new clue revealed just before Ellery's Challenge to the Reader, if you think about I have a bit of a weakness for mystery books set in hospitals; the other big hospital mystery I've read is Ngaio Marsh's Nursing Home Murder. This one starts out promisingly, with a complex murder scheme and seemingly only three articles of discarded clothing, a pair of trousers and two shoes, to aid Ellery Queen (and you) in finding the true culprit. Tension heats up a bit when a second murder is committed, and a new clue revealed just before Ellery's Challenge to the Reader, if you think about it enough, considerably limits the playing field - and if you've deduced what the shoes and pants mean, leaves just one surprising possibility. But unfortunately, this surprising possibility ends up being a character who before this felt like a minor suspect with the sole purpose of giving testimony. Although I considered this person in my personal suspect list, I never really gave them a second thought because there were other characters who appeared more and seemingly had more motive (although the reason I had for not dismissing the suspect entirely ended up being part of the solution). Speaking of motive, it is non-existent for this character until the LAST PAGE. Before this, about five pages to the end, we learn the culprit was working with an accomplice (who is an even less important character) who had all the motive in the world, as they said themselves before their arrest. The motive the actual doer had in connection with the accomplice is revealed in the final sentence (although this late revelation is nothing compared to the final-sentence murderer-reveal in the preceding French Powder Mystery.) The one part of the solution that really works is how Ellery deduced the criminal's identity and how they got away with it almost perfectly. My Otto Penzler American Mystery Classics edition says this is Ellery's masterpiece of observation and deduction, and it may just be if only for Ellery's breakdown of those three central clues: The shoes, the trousers, and the third clue from the second victim's office. Would have been two stars for the promising setup before the reveal, but Ellery's deduction gives it that third. One star off for the disappointing culprit identity and another for the complete lack of motive.

  28. 4 out of 5

    March

    This was the third Ellery Queen novel, published in 1931, although according to a footnote on p. 119 it takes place earlier than the plot of the first (The Roman Hat Mystery). Set in a hospital, it concerns a particuarly gruesome murder: the strangulation of a hospital benefactress while she is unconscious in a diabetic coma awaiting gall bladder surgery. J. J. McC's preface is annoying as ever but mercifully short this time. Ellery is his usual obnoxious self, with his veneer of learning and an This was the third Ellery Queen novel, published in 1931, although according to a footnote on p. 119 it takes place earlier than the plot of the first (The Roman Hat Mystery). Set in a hospital, it concerns a particuarly gruesome murder: the strangulation of a hospital benefactress while she is unconscious in a diabetic coma awaiting gall bladder surgery. J. J. McC's preface is annoying as ever but mercifully short this time. Ellery is his usual obnoxious self, with his veneer of learning and and dropping quotes picked out of Bartlett's and his casual sexism: on p. 118, he quotes with approval a line from Euripides's Hippolytus, "I hate a learned woman" (Queen, apparently unfamiliar with how plays work, attributes the sentiment to Euripides himself) and a footnote extends this dislike to include "dumpy women" and concludes: "Undoubtedly Mr. Queen referred to Dr. Pennini. She was both 'learned' and 'dumpy'. . ." The police, as usual, come off as thoroughly incompetent, with Inspector Queen allowing his son to take charge of the investigation and order suspects about in the presence of his own subordinates. Nevertheless, the novel is a great improvement over the The Roman Hat Mystery (1929), which was not even a fair-play mystery, and the dry, unreadably turgid The French Powder Mystery (1930). This one moves along at a clip and the suspects, mainly doctors and greedy relatives, are characterized well enough to be distinguishable from one another. Having now read this, it is easier for me to see how the authors managed to produce the ingenious The Greek Coffin Mystery a year later.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Once agin, this series is not for me. Ellery is a pompous, arrogant elitist who loves obscure quotes and lording his intelligence over everyone. The explanation of the method and motive for the murder is unnecessarily drawn out, going over such minute details, such as the broken shoelace, with such detail that you have no choice but to skim or go mad. Apparently the only people who would think to use adhesive tape to fix a broken lace are “professionally minded” people. (Insert eye roll here). T Once agin, this series is not for me. Ellery is a pompous, arrogant elitist who loves obscure quotes and lording his intelligence over everyone. The explanation of the method and motive for the murder is unnecessarily drawn out, going over such minute details, such as the broken shoelace, with such detail that you have no choice but to skim or go mad. Apparently the only people who would think to use adhesive tape to fix a broken lace are “professionally minded” people. (Insert eye roll here). The main benefactor of the hospital, Abby Doran, was murdered while awaiting surgery and then her doctor was killed several days later. It was his nurse, Miss Price, who was the murderer and she was in cahoots with the doctor’s step-son who also happened to be her husband. They killed Mrs. Doran for the money that she left the doctor and then had to kill him so that it would go to the step-son. This whole theory made no sense. The step-son was constantly hitting the doctor up for money. How could he hide a wife from him? And the whole disguise that Miss Price used, imitating the doctor and his limp, was so elaborate it bordered on ridiculous. And don’t even get me started on the way that they treat their manservant, Djuna. Ugh. And if you have to have a glossary of characters then you have way too many of them and you need to cut some out. Remind me that no matter if amazon is offering other books in this series for free, I don’t want or need to read them.

  30. 4 out of 5

    David Dunlap

    While inspecting the hospital she has endowed, the wealthy Abigail Doorn goes into a sudden diabetic coma and falls down a flight of stairs, requiring emergency abdominal surgery. Just before she is wheeled into the operating room, however, it is discovered that she has been strangled with a length of picture-wire. Who is responsible? This is the question facing Ellery Queen and his father the police inspector. There are no lack of suspects on site: the dead woman's daughter, her fiancée the fam While inspecting the hospital she has endowed, the wealthy Abigail Doorn goes into a sudden diabetic coma and falls down a flight of stairs, requiring emergency abdominal surgery. Just before she is wheeled into the operating room, however, it is discovered that she has been strangled with a length of picture-wire. Who is responsible? This is the question facing Ellery Queen and his father the police inspector. There are no lack of suspects on site: the dead woman's daughter, her fiancée the family attorney, Abigail Doorn's live-in companion (with whom she had a tempestuous relationship), the arrogant surgeon whose career has been financed and furthered by the deceased, his mysterious scientist/partner in a hush-hush research project, one of the nurses, even the kindly medical director. And there is the vanished stranger who called the surgeon away just before the murder, who was seen only by the doorman -- who is he? does he even exist? -- As the authorities begin to close in on a suspect, there is a second murder. Is it connected with the first? Or a copycat crime of opportunity? -- Intriguing puzzle, with a satisfying resolution. (I had my suspicions, but did not quite work it out...)

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