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The French Powder Mystery [Hardcover]

Ellery Queen
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I highly recommend this book to all mystery fans! Feb. 26 2004
When the body of the wife of the President of French's department store tumbles out of a display, Ellery Queen and his father, Inspector Queen, arrive to unravel this mystery. This is a tale of drug abuse, abduction, marital infidelity, hatred, and a murder that no one could have committed. How will Ellery gather all of the disparate threads and solve this murder? Read this book to find out!
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!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumph of logical reasoning Dec 21 2001
By Mr. R. J. Clark - Published on
The first ten Ellery Queen novels were pure logic problems, unencumbered by considerations of plausibility of character or situation. However, the puzzles are so enjoyable (especially the challenge to the reader once all the clues have been revealed) that we can overlook these flaws.
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!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ellery's 2nd Mystery - Proof Positive of Exceptional Talent Oct. 3 2004
By Michael Wischmeyer - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The 1930 novel, "The French Powder Mystery", is a well-structured detective story that challenges the reader, is scrupulously fair, and makes good reading.

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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it a lot May 6 2013
By snowyday3 - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I liked it a lot. Four and a-half stars if you are an Ellery Queen fan. Three and a half-stars otherwise.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars All the clues you need - more red herrings than you want. Feb. 12 2003
By Peter Reeve - Published on
Frederic Dannay and Manfred Lee, the authors of this and the other early Ellery Queen books, certainly enjoyed mystery. They not only invented a fictional sleuth called Ellery Queen, they also wrote the books under that pseudonym. Not content with that, this novel also has a forward by a fictional 'J.J.McC' and some additional notes by an unnamed 'editor'. You may enjoy all of this or, like me, you may find it all rather irritating and wish they would simply get on with the 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.
5.0 out of 5 stars vintage queen Jan. 26 2014
By Rmm - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
One of the best of Ellery Queens that I have read. The plot and the usual challenge , all make these books more than ordinary detective fiction . They stimulate intellect, and make want to read each word carefully so that you don't miss a single clue.
The description of the scene of crime along with the diagrams make the book so vivid that one can actually feel that one is a part of the cast of characters actually a witness!
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