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There Was An Old Woman Paperback – Dec 9 1991

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial US; Reprint edition (Dec 9 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060974400
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060974404
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Eccentric Characters, Well-Crafted Plot - Challenging Oct. 26 2004
By Michael Wischmeyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
There Was An Old Woman named Cornelia Potts, who amassed a fortune selling shoes: Potts Shoes are America's Shoes - $3.99 Everywhere! This eccentric woman lived with her six adult children in a mansion most notable for a huge bronze statue of an Oxford Shoe that decorated the extensive lawn. Her children from her first marriage - the aggressive Thurlow, the secretive Louella, and the playful Horatio - are all decidedly unbalanced. The three children from her second marriage, the twins Robert and Maclyn, and the beautiful Sheila, appear normal. Her argumentative son, Thurlow, challenged one of the twins to a duel. Mrs. Potts didn't know what to do. Actually, Mrs. Potts was not even concerned.

There Was An Old Woman (1943) is a classic Ellery Queen mystery. The reader is challenged to unravel a carefully constructed logical puzzle. The unusual setting, the eccentric characters, and the bizarre murders add spice to the effort. In the final chapters Ellery Queen peels away layers of confusion and misdirection, finally unveiling the culprit. The solution is surprising. Queen's logic, as usual, is convincing.

The Ellery Queen novels were immensely popular during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Paperback editions continued to be widely available in the 1960s and 1970s. Signet Classic Mysteries often packaged two Ellery Queen mysteries together as a double mystery. Later, fifty year commemorative editions were published, beginning in 1979 with the first Ellery Queen novel, The Roman Hat Mystery (1929). Reprints (from HarperPerennial and others) continue to be published today.

I particularly recommend the early Ellery Queen mysteries, especially The French Powder Mystery, The Greek Coffin Mystery, The Egyptian Cross Mystery, The Siamese Twin Mystery, The Chinese Orange Mystery, and The Spanish Cape Mystery.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
tantalising June 4 2000
By jenny mah chin hua - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best Ellery Queen's books I have ever read. It just kept you guessing as to who is the killer. I have read a number of mystery books and Ellery Queen is by far the best. When the identity of the killer was finally revealed in the end I can only shake my head and say 'now why didn't I think of that?'
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Cool! Aug. 31 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I read it at bed time every night. I awaited every moment to find out what happens next. It's a great mystery and you don't know til the very end what will happen.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A classic whodunit July 16 2008
By Joseph Boone - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The Potts family sits atop a fortune built on selling millions of shoes but all is not well in their kingdom. The matriarch, Cornelia Potts is a bitter old hag, three of her six grown children appear to be insane while the remaining three start dying one by one. It's up to Ellery Queen and his father, the Inspector to solve the mystery but even Ellery is stumped to come up with answers amidst one of the most bizarre collection of suspects he's ever stumbled upon.

While I haven't read a great many Ellery Queen novels, I think I'm safe in saying that few of them have a more convoluted path to the ultimate solution, and few stumped Ellery for as long as this one did. Fortunately, the journey is an enjoyable one and the supporting cast is varied and interesting. The Potts household is filled with offbeat characters and Ellery even falls for one of them, which adds an interest element.

This book should please just about anyone looking for a good old-fashioned whodunit. Modern mysteries have largely abandoned this style of novel and I for one enjoy a detective story that focuses primarily on detection instead of police procedure, violence, suspense, and the other elements that are commonly added into the mix (although those can be very enjoyable in their own way as well). I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a good mystery whether you're a first time Ellery Queen reader or a long-time fan.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic combination of Queen the puzzler and Queen the novelist Dec 18 2012
By Thomas Holt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In my re-reading of Ellery Queen, I passed the Hollywood novels by with no qualms - turgid stuff - and the Wrightsville series with no problems (attempted re-readings failed to stir the slightest interest). But, 'There was an Old Woman' created the most pleasant memories - not to be disappointed. Here was the Queen of the first nine novels - grown up; with a witty, if fantastic scenario, a fairly difficult puzzle, and some of the whackiest characters you will find in literature. The nursery rhyme theme dictates the plot, to and extent, and is a great compliment to Agatha Christie; three of whose similar themed novels preceded this one by up to five years.

I won't go into the detail of the plot, others have done that as well as I could. All I have to say is that Ellery Queen was one of the best writers to indulge in detective fiction, and this book is a credit to the genre and a great deal of fun.