Monday, July 16, 2012

The Adventures of Ellery Queen

As TomCat also mentions in his recent worshipping post, the more Carr you read the more you appreciate him and that's certainly what happened to me in the last months. I don't really prefer either him or Queen as an author anymore and I've gotten attuned to the duo of Merrivale and Masters, but as a detective figure I still enjoy Ellery a lot; in contrast to certain other readers it seems. Maybe I was primed by arrogant, eccentric detectives in Japanese novels already even without reading anything with Philo Vance in it. Anyway, I was kind of reluctant to pick up The Egyptian Cross Mystery due to the prevalent opinion it would have been more suitable for a short story frame, which is comparable to how I felt about The Dutch Shoe Mystery. So I decided to finally read the first of Queen's short story collections instead and here are my own two cents about the stories.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Red Widow Murders

Michael Tairlaine is invited to a strange kind of gathering at the Mantlings' house, where Sir Henry Merrivale will also show up as an impartial witness. The partakers draw cards, which will determine who stays in a supposedly haunted room. Well, not exactly haunted by a supernatural force, but the room itself seems to be killing people as soon as they stay alone in that room and supposedly it does so by poison, since that seems most likely considering the records of the cases in the past which reach back to the time of the French Revolution. After someone is decided to go into the Widow's Room, he is to answer the others' calling every 15 minutes. And he does so just until the time is over and the others barge through the door to find out the victim must have already been dead for an hour! He died of curare, but no wounds for the poison to enter are found on the body and nobody could have entered the room anyway since it was under constant observation. And how did a dead man answer their calls?

Friday, June 29, 2012

鍵のかかった部屋 「防犯探偵・榎本シリーズ ドラマ版」

Kagi no kakatta heya is the TV drama adaptation of Kishi Yuusuke's series of locked room mysteries featuring young attorney Aoto Junko and security consultant (professional thief??) Enomoto Kei. The stories were collected under the name of the third book/second short story collection in the series and Aoto's boss Serizawa was added to the main cast. Each episode is about a case where Enomoto has to explain a locked room scenario so that Aoto and Serizawa can prove someone's innocence in a murder case or find the culprit in what at first seemed like a suicide. So yes, a whole series that deals solely with locked rooms! How awesome is that? Pretty much, but due to time restraints and the relatively continuous theme and structure of the episodes, I'll just illustrate my Top 3 and give a final opinion of the whole series.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Fourth Door

After the suicide of Victor Darnley's wife in a locked attic room, the Darnley house and especially said room became to be known as haunted and none of its tenants stayed for long. But when mediumistic Alice Latimer and her husband Patrick move in, things take a sudden turn. Alice suspects that Victor's wife had actually been murdered in that locked room and that the footsteps and noises at night symbolize her spirit's manifestation and the wish to expose her murderer. Consequently an experiment is planned in the attic: Patrick will stay in the haunted room to confirm Mrs. Darnley's manifestation and the door will be sealed with wax and a rare coin while somebody knocks on the door every half an hour to see whether Patrick answers and everything is fine. When Patrick ceases to answer and the seal is removed, Patrick is not in the room and instead the corpse of another person lies on the floor!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Gold Solution + Deadline

Alexander and Norma Gold are asked to help prove their friend Pearl's niece's fiance innocent after he was found bent over his employer's dying body with the bloody knife in his hands. The victim is Roger Talbott, one of America's most famous Architects, and the crime scene is his studio floor atop his brownstone mansion, which was as securely guarded as a fortress by various devices. With the date of the trial getting closer, Alexander is forced to solve this puzzle quickly, which isn't exactly the most appropriate activity while recovering from a heart attack...
Alexander and Norma are invited by billionaire Max Baron to join him and his family during a performance of the Boguslav Ballet. Baron suspects someone "reading his mind", or simply put the leakage of information, and the request for Alexander to solve that issue is the original purpose for the invitation, However Alec and Norma are soon hired for something entirely different, when Viktor Boguslav is stabbed in the theatre box adjoining the Barons and the Golds, only parted by a curtain and with Baron's son Jeffrey as Boguslav's assistant sleeping right behind his employer in the cloakroom in front of a locked door! The Golds have a mere deadline of less than three days to prove someone else than Jeffrey could do it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The White Priory Murders

Hollywood star Marcia Tait wants to pay the British producers back who did not believe in her talent back then, so she plans on playing the lead in a play of the Bohun brothers. One night, while she stays in their 17th-century pavilion on their property, she is beaten to death and only the footprints of the man who discovered the corpse are found outside in unbroken snow. However Marcia clearly was murdered before it stopped snowing that night. James Bennett, another guest of the Bohuns, calls Inspector Masters and his uncle Sir Henry Merrivale to solve this impossible situation.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Tragedy of Y

York Hatter had been missing for some time and is eventually found after apparently having jumped from a ferry and poisoning himself before that to commit suicide. Afterwards follow two attempts to poison his deaf, blind and mute step-daughter Louisa Campion. In the second case, her mother Emily Hatter, who is sleeping in the same room, is knocked down with York's old mandolin and dies from shock. The rest of the case isn't any less abnormal than the Hatter family itself and to make sense of the happenings, Inspector Thumm needs the help of Drury Lane.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Ichiyanagi Kenzou was supposed to have a bright future as a university scholar, but became ill and since then withdrew in the mansion of his family. Suddenly, at the age of 40, he decides to marry the 15 years younger Kubo Katsuko. She is a respectable young woman earning her own money as a girls school teacher, but the marriage is not exactly tolerated from the Ichiyanagis. Even though they still believe in standing and pedigree instead of thinking of the present and future, the ceremony takes place eventually. However at 4 in the morning screams and the shrill plucking of a koto rouse the family and their guests. When they look after the newly wed couple in their annex, they find them gruesomely slaughtered by a katana that is found stuck in the snow around the rear entrance. What is more, the sliding doors were locked from the inside and no footprints of the culprit were found that could hint at the culprit's escape... Kindaichi Kousuke, a detective that became renowned recently, is summoned to call this locked room murder.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Till Death Do Us Part

During a garden party on Lord Ashe's estate in the village of Six Ashes, Dick Markham's fiancee Lesley Grant visits the tent of a fortune teller and leaves it rather unsettled. To see what the man told her, Dick pays him a visit himself, but before the fortune teller can tell him anything, he gets wounded by a shot from a rifle when Lesley is at a shooting range. Of course she claims she did it accidentally, but later that evening the injured fortune teller invites Dick over to his house to reveal his real identity. He is Sir Harvey Gilman, a pathologist and expert on crime, and tells him about his fiancee, her real age and her past husbands/lovers and how all three of them died through prussic acid in a locked room - apparently suicide, but Sir Harvey assumes Lesley got hold of her fortune by killing the men with some ingenious trick. And he wants to try a little experiment with Dick the next day, as Lesley invited him for dinner in her cottage. The following morning an unrecognizable caller summons Dick to Sir Harvey's cottage again and there he witnesses a shadow shooting through the window of Sir Harvey's sitting room. However the bullet does not hit him and it is not the reason for his death. He died through prussic acid injected with a hypodermic syringe while all the windows and doors of the room were locked. But then why did someone shoot through the window with the same rifle Lesley used when she accidentally shot through the tent the day before - or wasn't it accidentally after all?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

She Died A Lady

Dr. Luke Croxley, the narrator of this novel, gets a visit by one of his son's patients. Rita Wainwright's worries are not of medical nature though. She has an affair with a younger man called Barry Sullivan, a young American actor, while being married to her older husband Alec. The latter however is more interested in radio broadcasts about recent war developments than what his wife does behind his back. Rita is fond of Alec and does not want to hurt him, but at the same time she feels the urge to run away with Barry. One night when Croxley is over at the Wainwrights Rita and Barry vanish, leaving two sets of footprints leading to the end of a cliff and not coming back. Later the dead bodies are found, but they did not die from the fall or from drowning. They were shot at close range.