Sunday, April 26, 2015

There was an old woman by Ellery Queen

Image result for there was an old woman ellery queenMaster of Deduction debuts on my little old blog.

Ellery Queen is the name used by both the detective and pseudonym for the author pair of cousins, Danny and Lee from NY. Ellery Queen is perhaps one of the most famous names in detective fiction next only to Agatha Christie, and the Grand master of locked room murders himself(shame on you if you don't know who I'm referring to).

Enough stalling, lets get down the mystery. Cornelia Potts in the overtly dominating matriarch of the Potts family and the Potts business empire, which they founded on selling cheap shoes. Cornelia had six children, 3 from the first marriage and 3 from her second. Cornelia's children from her first marriage are far from normal, they are deranged and quirky, and her children from her second marriage are normal and even have a sharp business acumen. This sharp contrast has led her to sympathize with her older set of children resulting in her indulging them and letting them have their way in childish pursuits.

The oldest and most notorious out of all her children is Thurlow Potts, a short, stout middle aged man who spends his mother's fortune in defending the honor of his family because of imagined slights through lawsuits, which he loses one after another. Ellery Queen takes a great interest in this quirky family, at dinner one night Thurlow challenges his younger step brother to a duel to death, at another one of his imagined slights. The saner potts, their lawyer and Ellery try to talk Thurlow out of the duel but he is adamant. So Ellery comes up with a neat little trick to exchange real bullets in Thurlow's guns with fake ones, Ellery does the task himself. The next morning at dawn, the two step brothers step outside the Potts mansion for the duel, Thurlow fires and his step brother falls.

Image result for there was an old woman ellery queen

Thus, the maestro is embroiled in a mystery of his own making. He had put the fake bullets in the gun himself so how did Thurlow's step brother die? After doing a few reviews from the history and politics genre, I wanted to go back to GAD. The book uses the typical antagonizing patriarch/matriarch plot, seen in several Christie novels. It also uses the nursery rhyme theme which is another one of Christie staples. Despite these tried and tested techniques the book manages to hold its own, the Potts family is pretty interesting, the characters are well drawn, Ellery lives up to his name and does some impressive deductions on top of all this the authors use a poetic writing prose. Very different to what I have read in the past, but I can see how some people might find it exasperating.

The mystery would have been better if Ellery would not have behaved weirdly in the book like why did he not use his influence in the police to have Thurlow arrested before the duel or why was Ellery never a suspect for the police as he was the one who changed the bullets. Also I felt the romance at the end of the novel and behavior of the female at the end was a little over the top.

In conclusion, I thought it was a very a good introduction to the Ellery Queen cannon, looking forward to read more from the same.

Image result for 3 stars out of 5

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