French Powder Mystery Ellery Queen


Published: 1969

Mass Market Paperback


French Powder Mystery  by  Ellery Queen

French Powder Mystery by Ellery Queen
1969 | Mass Market Paperback | PDF, EPUB, FB2, DjVu, talking book, mp3, ZIP | | ISBN: | 10.76 Mb

Come with me to the heyday of the early portion of the twentieth century. Walk with me through the streets of New York, and stop, if you will, at one of the grand old department stores that I have never seen but only read about in books.I am talking about a store of many floors, full of salespeople and lunch counters, mattress departments, book departments, fabric departments, and store detectives roaming about. The store is run by its owner, who has a luxurious apartment on the top floor, accessible only by those with one of five special keys.On this particular day, a woman goes to set up a new window display.

It consists of a brand new apparatus, imported from France: a bed that folds up into the wall. She readies the window display and opens the curtains to the expectant crowd outside. The crowd watches to see the show of the new luxury hide-away bed from France being opened. The woman turns the lever that opens the machine. As the bed gradually opens from its vertical position, a murdered womans bloody body is revealed in its interior.So begins The French Powder Mystery. Like the other Ellery Queen mystery Ive read, this book is a great lot of fun and relatively unimportant in terms of any deep philosophical meaning.

As a kind of logic puzzle, the mystery is well-set up.Being a rather inferior reader, I had no idea at all of the culprit until Ellery revealed it at the end. I imagine that the readers of ages past must have been much more sharp than todays audience, because though clues are revealed left and right, and Ellery, at each new clue, seems to be really learning something and coming to new and grand conclusions, I myself was in the dark.I suppose Ive gotten used to the CSI-like device where one person discovers evidence and then turns to their partner and explains, very carefully, what exactly it means.CHARACTER 1: Wait!

This is McPhearsons shoe. And it has the same DNA as the chew toy we found at the park!CHARACTER 2: Hold on! Doesnt that mean...CHARACTER 1: Thats right. Because this DNA matches the other DNA weve already found, that means that the alibi Donald gave us cant be true. And if Donald wasnt at the drive-in like he said he was, he must have been somewhere else.CHARACTER 2: Youre right. We should find Donald and question him again. Its a good thing our science has given us a new lead with which to solve this mystery.[Show graphic blow-up of computer-generated double-helix DNA strand with accompanying whooshing sound.:]In contrast, in the quiet of the murdered womans empty apartment, Ellery Queen examines each object with care and thought.

The books on this bookshelf, he says, thoughtfully, dont seem to fit with the personality of the owner.Later, after interviewing a certain woman, he asks her to return a piece of evidence (a womans hat) to the closet from whence it came. After she does so, he absurdly removes the hat from the closet and asks a man to put it away.

Watching, he observes the differences in the way that the man and the woman put the hat back. And from these kinds of observations, observations about evidence and personality, he comes to conclusions.Reading this book was like taking a trip into a foreign land: America in the 1920s.

We find racism, sexism, gangsters smuggling opium, men in hats and suits, store detectives, anti-vice leagues, tough police lieutenants, wily politicians and, last but not least, people fainting all over the place every time they get a shock.We also find, as we always do with good mysteries, the mystery as metaphor. In this case, the lovely facade of a department store window stricken with the grim decay and horror of death is a metaphor for the problems of those who own the department store, themselves putting on a show for all society, themselves living with something bad on the inside.

Paradoxically, the mystery serves (by its solving) to reveal to the public something which was hidden about the people in the story.Unlike the mystery television shows of today, this mystery is an exercise in personality, logic, and judgment. It is written as a kind of mind game with no goal except entertainment. The people of the past were sexist, racist, insulated, and a little silly but, whatever else they were, they were not stupid.

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