The French Powder Mystery
|New from||Used from|
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.
“A new Ellery Queen book has always been something to look forward to for many years now.” —Agatha Christie
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
I must admit that this is the first Ellery Queen (1905-71) book that I have ever read, and as such I cannot compare it to any other of his stories. But, that said, I found this to be a great book, and a fascinating mystery! I liked the illustrations of the crime scene and the way that the clues were laid out. I highly recommend this book to all mystery fans!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The French Powder Mystery concerns a dead body, discovered when the automatic window display of the French Department Store kicks into action one morning. The logic of the solution is rigorous, and the naming of the killer is literally the last two words of the book - even when the denoument is underway and all is being explained, the name of the bad 'un is still a surprise.
A better plot than Roman Hat and the Dutch Shoe Mysteries, I recommend it wholeheartedly!
Cyrus French is the chairman of the eminently successful and stylistically influential French's Department Store in midsection New York. In recent weeks the store window has been opened precisely at noon each day to exhibit somewhat fantastical, European modern furniture. Today the waiting crowd is awestruck as a dead body tumbles from a wall bed. This second mystery by Ellery Queen, the follow-up to his remarkable first novel The Roman Hat Mystery, was proof positive that this new author was here to stay.
The French Powder Mystery foreshadowed the innovative mysteries that would follow in the next few years, classic deductive novels like The Tragedy of X (1932) and The Greek Coffin Mystery (1932) and The Tragedy of Y (1932) and The Spanish Cape Mystery (1935).
To me, much of the fascination with The French Powder Mystery was the recognition that the New York of 1930 now seems remotely distant. While drugs and drug addiction were not unknown, they were largely unfamiliar evils. A former college companion of Ellery Queen says, "Mightn't it be the same stuff? Heroin, I think you called it." Also, New York at night was more secure. For an alibi a young woman replies, "When I left the Zorns that evening, it was a little after ten. I walked and walked in the park (Central Park) until almost midnight." And the wealthy were indeed different: a cosmopolitan young woman had cigarettes, appropriately scented, made up especially for her by a custom tobacco manufacturer.
The French Powder Mystery is classic Ellery Queen and should appeal to all fans of deductive mystery stories. Good hunting.
Each lunchtime a crowd has been gathering to watch a model conduct a live demonstration of some advante garde home furnishings in the window of a large department store. Today though the demonstration was not quite as 'live' as planned, the corpse of the wife of the owner became a part of the show. Inspector Queen was called in to investigate the case, and soon his son Ellery found himself involved when one of the suspects was revealed to be an old friend. Together father and son, assisted by the NYPD manage to solve the case despite a number of false clues. As always with this series all the clues are fairly presented for the reader to follow, and a challenge is issued for the reader to do so just before the reveal.
This series is contemporary to the period in which the story is written. This is different from a period novel in which the author is writing about a time in the past primarily because the author of a contemporary novel will assume the reader will understand the setting while the period novelist will explain many details. In this series the 21st century reader must keep in mind that besides the lack of modern day procedures and professionalism in the police force there were great differences in society in general. Household servants were the norm, jobs for middle class women were not. And rank had much more privilege then than it does now, allowing Inspector Queen to bring Ellery in on cases on a regular basis, even allowing Ellery to behave in an extremely arrogant manner to other members of the NYPD.
Despite these quirks these early novels are not without their charm. They offer a glimpse into life of nearly a hundred years ago while telling a challenging mystery story.
Talking of irritating, was there ever such a provoking hero as Ellery? Pompous, arrogant and vain, he makes Lord Peter Whimsey look like a man of the people. "Scoot!" he says to a police officer, handing him some items for fingerprinting. Anyone who thinks that America has always been a classless society, in contrast to Europe's class-consciousness, should read this 1930 novel.
But is it a good tale? Well, yes, if you want a story in the classic mould. It has rather too many red herrings for my taste but I shall say no more, for fear of spoiling it.
One other complaint; the authors don't trust to the power of simple story-telling. Characters do not merely 'say' things. They 'grin broadly' - for no apparent reason - and display tobacco-stained teeth when they speak. The authors seem to think they have to embelish everything to retain the reader's interest. When the Inspector orders his men to inspect the crime scene, they do so 'grinning'. Why? Have they forgotten that the victim's poor spouse is in the room?
Having said all that, if you are a mystery fan you will want to read at least one Ellery Queen story and this is as good a one as any. One last tip: if, when you reach the final episode, you have not solved the mystery, go back over the earlier parts of the book. As the authors say, the clues are all there.