Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bonus FFB on Wednesday: A Room to Die In -- Ellery Queen (Jack Vance)

I'm not at all sure how much of a hand Fred Danny had in these work for hire books under the Queen name.  I've heard that he provided detailed outlines for some of them, but I don't know if that's true.  Whatever the case, this one by Jack Vance does have one of the earmarks of a classic Queen case, a locked room.

Ann Nelson finds it hard to believe that her father committed suicide, even though his body is found in a room locked tightly from the inside.  The police detective, Thomas Tarr seems convinced of the suicide, but Ann can't let it go.  Anyone who's read a few mysteries knows that she's right and Tarr is wrong.  

Ann has never been close to either of her parents, but her father leaves her all his considerable (for the time) fortune.  Her cousin, Edgar Maudley isn't happy about that.  Martin Jones, an unpleasant contractor, doesn't seem to like anyone, and neighbors Alexander and Jehane Cypriano have plenty of secrets.

Vance didn't use his lush style for this novel, but the writing is fine, anyway.  The solution to the locked room problem is a tad far-fetched, and the police investigation is going to raise some questions with a lot of readers, but I really enjoyed this book.


Unknown said...

According to Mike Nevins's The Art Of Detection (Chapter 20, "An Intrusion Of Ghosts"), the Phantom Queens were the idea of EQ's agent, the legendary Scott Meredith.

This was during the period of Manny Lee's writer's block; Meredith's agency came up with the paperback originals in collaboration with Pocket Books, with Manny Lee functioning as editorial supervisor (and sometime rewriter).

Per Nevins, Fred Dannay had nothing to do with these books; Manny Lee, having a wife and eight children to support, was "in charge", after a fashion.

The writers were all from the Scott Meredith stable; each of them came up with their own stories, which went out under the Queen name. All were asked to keep the confidence; all did.

Mike Nevins was told the whole story by Fred Dannay when they worked on Mike's original book, Royal Bloodline; Dannay asked Mike not to write it up at that time, and Mike kept the secret until after Dannay's death.

Anyway, it's all in Chapter 20 of The Art Of Detection, where Mike Nevins writes it up far better than I have here, so there too.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Mike.

George said...

I've read a couple of the "fake" Ellery Queens (but not this one). They were okay.

August West said...

I really enjoyed the three that were written by Charles Runyon.

neer said...

I too have read a couple of Phantom EQs and like George found them okay. I remember seeing this in a library. Will borrow it now.