The two cousins who, collectively, wrote under the pen name of "Ellery Queen," Frederick Dannay and Manfred Lee, were jointly responsible for some of the best American mystery fiction written in that period between the two world wars (and thereafter) known as the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Ellery Queen the author, of course, wrote stories about a detective named...Ellery Queen. (For the purpose of grammar and comprehension, I will refer to the authors as a single person - generally "Queen" - and their fictional detective character as "Ellery.") Queen wrote wonderful novels, but he also wrote marvelous short stories. Most have been out of print for years.
Now, MysteriousPress.com and Open Road Media have reissued one volume of Queen's short stories, originally published in 1940, and there is reason to celebrate. While all the stories in The New Adventures of Ellery Queen, as the collection is known, are very good, they also include a single novella which, in my opinion, is one of the best things the author ever wrote and also one of the absolutely best "impossible crime" mysteries of all time, "The Lamp of God."
Detectives have been solving mysterious disappearances since the earliest days of the mystery story. But there are very few who are called upon to solve the problem of the disappearance of an entire house – which quite literally vanishes overnight, leaving nothing behind it – just a field covered in freshly-fallen snow where the entirely substantial and solid house had been on the preceding night. That's what happens in "The Lamp of God."
I don’t want to tell you much more about the story – except to point out that the reader is given all the clues necessary to figure out the truth behind the mysteries in “The Lamp of God.” But I’d be willing to wager that you don’t figure it out before the end of the story, when Ellery explains what happened.
The New Adventures of Ellery Queen is the subject of this week's audio review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the entire review by clicking here. All the stories are good – but, to me, it’s really “The Lamp of God” which I find indispensable. I think it belongs on your bookshelf, either in a print edition or as an e-book.
The 2015 Bingo Challenge
This is the 36th - and last - entry filling the final remaining square in the 2015 Vintage Mystery Bingo challenge. under way at the My Reader's Block blog, The New Adventures of Ellery Queen is my entry for the square (fourth row, fifth column) calling for one short story collection. Later this week, please check back for a guide and links to all my entries filling the score card.