Yesterday, we had news about a king (Richard III of England). Now, there's news about a Queen: Ellery Queen. The Mysterious Press and Open Road Media have just released a dozen Ellery Queen classics in popular e-book formats, including all of the early "puzzle"-type mysteries for which Queen was famous, with titles including a nationality (American Gun Mystery, Chinese Orange Mystery, Dutch Shoe Mystery, etc.). Also newly re-released: Cat of Many Tails, Ten Days Wonder and And on the Eighth Day, which really are among the best and most powerful of the novels.
If you're not familiar with Ellery Queen - the fictional character and the real-life novelist - "Queen" was really two cousins, Frederic Dannay and Manfred Lee. As a general rule, Dannay came up with the plots in outline form, and Lee turned the outlines into polished novels. Most of the early books included a direct and literal "Challenge to the Reader," just before the final revelations at the end of the book. The reader was informed that she or he had been given all the clues needed to solve the mystery and challenged to come up with the solution independently before reading the rest of the book. Not too many readers were up to the challenge - I certainly wasn't! And yet the clues are there - if you can find them.
As Ellery Queen, Dannay and Lee were tremendously influential on the traditional branch of the American mystery, and it is just flat-out wrong that their books have slipped into relative obscurity. To celebrate their e-book republication, Open Road Media has provided a link to this video about Ellery Queen, with brief comments from Richard Dannay and Rand Lee, the sons of the authors, and Otto Penzler of the Mysterious Press. Enjoy!