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The French Powder Mystery

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Buccaneer Books (June 1 1940)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0899661483
  • ISBN-13: 978-0899661483
  • Shipping Weight: 789 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
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Product Description


“A new Ellery Queen book has always been something to look forward to for many years now.” —Agatha Christie

“Ellery Queen is the American detective story.” —Anthony Boucher, author of Nine Times Nine
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Ellery Queen was a pen name created and shared by two cousins, Frederic Dannay (1905–1982) and Manfred B. Lee (1905–1971), as well as the name of their most famous detective. Born in Brooklyn, they spent forty-two years writing, editing, and anthologizing under the name, gaining a reputation as the foremost American authors of the Golden Age “fair play” mystery.
Although eventually famous on television and radio, Queen’s first appearance came in 1928, when the cousins won a mystery-writing contest with the book that was later published as The Roman Hat Mystery. Their character was an amateur detective who uses his spare time to assist his police inspector uncle in solving baffling crimes. Besides writing the Queen novels, Dannay and Lee cofounded Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, one of the most influential crime publications of all time. Although Dannay outlived his cousin by nine years, he retired Queen upon Lee’s death.  --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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) HASH(0xb671f9c0) out of 5 stars 24 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb5c80968) out of 5 stars A triumph of logical reasoning Dec 21 2001
By Mr. R. J. Clark - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb5c80d70) 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
HASH(0xb5c80de8) out of 5 stars A very early entry in the series Nov. 12 2015
By Jeanne Tassotto - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have given this a five star rating because I, personally have enjoyed it immensely. For someone who is not a fan of period mystery novels, who does not understand life in the early twentieth century the rating would be less. Unless the reader also enjoys the early Poirot (Christie), or Wimsey (Sayers), or Saint (Charteris) novels this one will probably not be nearly a five star experience. And unless someone is already a fan of Ellery Queen in some form this is probably not a good starting point.

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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb5c80b90) 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
HASH(0xb5c80e78) out of 5 stars All the clues you need - more red herrings than you want. Feb. 12 2003
By Peter Reeve - Published on
Format: Paperback
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.

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