Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Greek Coffin Mystery by Ellery Queen

Image result for the greek coffin mysteryAn eminent art dealer is dead. his family and friends have gathered in his NY home to share their grief. The dead man possessed a large estate and an art gallery, he bequeathed his temporal belongings through a will. Now the will has gone missing! Its Chaos at the dead man's house, the lawyer who was supposed to read out the will panics and orders everyone to stay put. The Police are called and they search the entire house, family and the guests, but there is no sign of the will. Where did the will go? Enter the master of deduction, Ellery Queen.

Ellery is the son of NY city Police Inspector Richard Queen. Ellery is a brilliant, high brow amateur detective, who likes to quote Shakespeare and wears a prince nez. He also has trouble concealing his own hubris. Ellery takes up the problem of the missing will and deduces that there is no place that the will could be hidden except in the dead man's coffin. The Police decide to take up Ellery's suggestion and dig up the grave, they find much more than they bargained for. Alongside the dead body of the art dealer they don't find the will but they find something much more sinister, another dead body! Two dead bodies in one coffin. How could this be? Everyone saw the one body in the coffin, and then they say the coffin being lowered in the crypt. Who is this 'new' dead man? and how did he get in the Art dealer's coffin?

Elley has his task cut out for him in a mystery which would make him famous and this book a classic in the genre.


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The Greek Coffin Mystery is one of the most famous Ellery Queen murder mysteries. It is full of red herrings, pretty girls, a large group of suspects, multiple murders and a riveting mystery at its heart. I have my own problems with the book, I felt the book is poorly edited is needlessly long and could have been trimmed by at least 40-50 pages. Also, the detective is quite full of himself and his constant preaching becomes tiresome. The book would have done much better in my ranking if the detective had been toned down a bit and the book would have been trimmed by ~50 pages. Had the grand master written this it would not have crossed 200 pages.

The starting and the ending capture your interest but its the middle where the book looses your attention. There is one part in the book where Ellery obsesses about tea and teapots for pages and pages, its becomes quite boring.

Ellery Queen does remind me of Owen Burns, a creation of Paul Halter, who is quite similar to Ellery in his mannerisms and temperament. Of course Ellery predates Owen by several decades so must have served as an inspiration for Paul Halter's detective who solved the Seven Wonders of Crime.

The identity of the murderer is quite unbelievable. Very hard to deduct, well done by the author; but overall this remains a week entry with too much padding, not a very enjoyable read.

Image result for 2.5 stars out of 5

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