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The French Powder Mystery Kindle Edition
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MP3 CD, Audiobook, Unabridged
|Length: 403 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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Top customer reviews
As the professor reviews different authors and genres, I find I am attracted to certain "classical" authors and I've committed to read some of these works to broaden my crime fiction exposure and to gain some appreciation for the trend-setters and mold-breakers. What particularly attracted me to Ellery Queen was his signature habit of pausing near the end of his story to advise the reader that all has been revealed; the reader knows everything that Queen does, and Queen now knows who the killer is. That was the hook for me. These books have also been described as "puzzle" mysteries; this one reminded me a bit of the Clue board game.
For reasons that escape me now, I decided to start with the second book in the series, "The French Powder Mystery(FP)". It was written in 1930 and is 405 pages long; I am guessing that this is one of the longer books in the series. The wife of a New York City department store magnate is found shot dead in the display window of their 5th Avenue store. Ellery is soon on the scene, and begins immediately to ask questions, and ask questions, and ask questions. Dad, a New York police inspector, is there as well asking his own questions but is soon stumped. He relies on Ellery for help and for not so subtle suggestions for direction. Though this was written pre-WWll, it has some current issues, namely drugs. And the deceased may have been playing around a bit.
There are a few instances were FP seems dated, maybe reminiscent of watching those glorious "Thin Man" movies, or perhaps a Bogie crime flick. There's a bit of melodrama; Ellery erupts every so often when quizzing a witness/suspect with a "Naturally!" and other exclamations that sound weird and out of place, Ellery tells a witness that he should talk because "you're not with policemen. You're with friends." There were cigarets all over the place, and a smokers puing habits provided a critical clue. Then there were pages about keys and who had what keys when and where was the missing key. Why was the body moved from the death scene? There was one African American character in the story, someone who manages a number of small apartment buildings and when he exited a scene he "shuffled rapidly". As the story nears the end, Inspector Queen and Ellery have a number of suspects come to their apartment in the upper 80's, one by one, to be interviewed for the last time
Finally, we readers get our long-awaited aside from Ellery. Soon after, he gathers all the suspects and a few police (20+ in all) in one large room at the department store apartment of the victim to lay out the case and uncover the killer. He begins his summary, and it goes on, and on, and on. It was by far the longest and most detailed such explanation of any murder I have ever read. Finally, the big bad guy is named - actually his name is the last two words of the story, so don't sneak a peek at the last page. Then, The End.
I enjoyed this as an interesting look not only at crime fiction but popular fiction of those days. Heavy reliance on dialog, not much description, no flashbacks, straight story telling. No mention at all of MOM, Motive, Opportunity, Means. It was all where were you at 1145pm? alibi, alibi, alibi. Not much in the way of issues of the day, nor did I learn too much about the characters. It gives a feel for how people lived in New York City of more than 85 years ago, no Uber, no cell phones, no CSI.
Liked it, but mostly for the novelty. As I expected, I don't plan to read another Ellery. But there's another twenty or so other 'classics' that I plan to squeeze into my regular crime fiction before the November 2018 elections.
For those who like mysteries, this is thoroughly inviting....not for deep insights, nor cosmic revelations,and don't look for the humor of Robert Parker but certainly
worth the time of serious readers of crime and suspense,,,,
The description of the scene of crime along with the diagrams make the book so vivid that one can actually feel that one is a part of the cast of characters actually a witness!