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Calamity Town [Audio Cassette]

Ellery Queen , Scott Harrison


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Audio, CD CDN $24.16  
Audio, Cassette, March 1 1998 --  
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Book Description

March 1 1998
Ellery Queen, hoping for anonymity and some quiet time for writing, has rented a house in Wrightsville under the name Ellery Smith. The town appears ideal—attractive homes, friendly people, and little crime. The writer Ellery Smith is quickly embraced by the community, especially by the founding family of Wrightsville. All is tranquil, that is, until a series of arsenic poisonings earns Wrightsville the name "Calamity Town."
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks; Unabridged edition (March 1 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786112921
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786112920
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16.4 x 3.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 426 g

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atypical - But Good Ellery Queen Mystery Dec 23 2004
By Michael Wischmeyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Ellery Queen, hoping for anonymity and some quiet time for writing, has rented a house in Wrightsville under the name Ellery Smith. The town, Wrightsville, appears ideal - attractive homes, friendly people, and little crime. The writer Ellery Smith is quickly embraced by the community, especially by the founding family of Wrightsville. All is tranquil, that is, until a series of arsenic poisonings earns Wrightsville the name Calamity Town.

Calamity Town (1942) falls chronologically in the middle phase of the Ellery Queen canon and differs considerably from his earlier mysteries. The setting is far from New York City, although the exact location of Wrightsville remains unclear. Several chapters are devoted to an extended courtroom scene that, I believe, is unique to this EQ story. Ellery himself even takes the stand.

Ellery's somewhat one-dimensional character is now more fully developed, more complex, more realistic. Unexpectedly, Ellery even becomes romantically involved with an attractive, quick witted, and independent young woman.

Most noticeably, the characters and the plot, possibly because the setting is a typical small town, are more conventional than is found in Ellery Queen's more imaginative earlier stories such as The Greek Coffin Mystery, The Egyptian Cross Mystery, and The Siamese Twin Mystery. It is not hard to imagine this story, repackaged somewhat, transformed into a British manor house mystery.

This atypical Ellery Queen mystery makes good reading. Calamity Town has often been reprinted and should not be difficult to locate.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ellery's first trip to Wrightsville Dec 10 2008
By Jeanne Tassotto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Well known mystery writer Ellery Queen has decided to set his next novel in a small town even though he had lived his entire life in New York City. To overcome this lack in his background Ellery has decided to spend the next six months or so living in a small town while writing the book. He has selected the small town of Wrightsville to take up residence and, in order not to become the 'local celebrity', he has decided to live under an assumed name - 'Ellery Smith'. He was surprised to find that there were no hotel rooms available, nor any furnished apartments as Wrightsville was filled to the brim with workers at the defense factory. The only place Ellery could find to stay that October of 1940 was a furnished house, one with an unfortunate history of broken hearts and sudden death. Ellery finds himself being drawn into the family of his landlord, especially the youngest daughter, Pat, and joining in with them through the holidays. Unfortunately for all the celebrations are tainted with plots and murders that are not resolved until the spring.

This is a transitional phase in the Ellery Queen series. In the earlier novels a very cerebral Ellery who dabbles in interesting problems writes mysteries as a hobby. In the later novels Ellery is a famous writer who travels often promoting his books and takes frequent breaks to peaceful Wrightsville to relax, usually with unfortunate consequences for at least one local resident. This novel is the first time Ellery visits the little town and, like all the books in the series, is contemporary to the time it is written. Life in a small town in the pre war years is an alien landscape to the 21st century reader. It is a time when people did not book accommodations ahead of time, when people were who they said they were and paid cash for things. As always with this series though the problem was complex and intriguing, one that will challenge the reader to stay ahead of Ellery.

Fans of the series will not want to miss seeing Ellery's first trip to Wrightsville but those who are new to the series might be better off starting elsewhere. This is not a typical Ellery Queen story of either the first or second half of the series. It also features some rather prolonged court scenes, something that thankfully did not occur often in the series.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit dated, but still one of the new "EQs" Jan. 9 2013
By Joseph J. Maniscalco - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ellery Queen started out in his first novels as a Philo Vance dilletante, or an even more priggy Lord Peter Wimsey. This first "Wrightsville" novel has Ellery become more realistic, though the narrator and dialog are still producst of the 1930s and 40s.
The puzzle is a good one, with clues fairly presented and manages to pack a surprise or two.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good "Golden Age" mystery Dec 26 2012
By I. Zawilski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is pretty much classic, but early, Ellery Queen. It's Ellery's first visit to Wrightsville, which figured prominently in several later mysteries by the duo who wrote pseudonymously as Ellery Queen. I thought Ellery came across as a bit of a jerk in this story. It's been a long time since I read any Queen stories but I don't remember him being this way. Perhaps he matured in the later stories. The story itself was pretty good, but a bit drawn out for my taste. I always liked the short stories better, so this may be a matter of personal taste, and yours might vary. For readers of classic cozies, this is a good, fairly well-plotted story, with a few mind-stretching coincidences. Recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An unique and thoroughly enjoyable Ellery Queen mystery July 13 2009
By Neal C. Reynolds - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As other reviewers have pointed out, this isn't a typical Ellery Queen puzzler nor is it typical for the era. It certainly qualifies as a good puzzler with tragic undertones. The structure of detective fiction in those days doesn't allow the feeling of deep tragedy that you'll find in contemporary novels such as those by Charles Todd, Val McDermid, and others. But there is a fatalistic and tragic flavor here.Others have done well in summarizing the plot. Ellery leaves New York to get the feel of small town America as a setting for a book he's writing and becomes involved in a tragic train of events which culminates in the apparant attempted murder of one woman and death of a second. The culprit apears obvious and this uniquely has a lengthy and well done courtroom sequence which includes Ellery as a reluctant witness for the prosecution.There are minor flaws here and there, but basically it's a good read. I was surprised by the number of lady smokers portrayed because my recollection of a small town at that time is that very few women smoked. Also there is a Biblical goof in which an otherwise learned character confuses David and Goliath with each other. That aside, this is worth reading for those who enjoy classic whodunits.

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