Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Focus on Freading: Ellery Queen

As I was browsing the newest entries in the Freading catalog, I knew immediately which books I wanted to bring to your attention in this first Focus on Freading post. I saw that a number of books by Ellery Queen were showing up on the New Arrivals page. “Ellery Queen” is the name of a famous fictional detective and the pen name of Fredric Dannay and Manfred Lee, cousins who wrote over 30 novels and myriad short stories starring their eponymous character. In addition to the novels written by and featuring Ellery Queen, they also lent the name as a house name for novels by other writers and published under the pseudonym of “Ellery Queen”.

Now, through Freading, libraries and their patrons have access to 39 novels and 5 short story collections by Ellery Queen. These are recent reprints by Mysterious Press, distributed by Open Road Media. Start at the beginning with The Roman Hat Mystery, originally published in 1929, and read through to the detective's last appearance in A Fine and Private Place from 1971.

Book descriptions below provided by the publisher.

Book Cover: The Roman Hat Mystery by Ellery Queen A murder in a crowded theater leaves a pack of suspects, but only one clue

Despite the dismal Broadway season, Gunplay continues to draw crowds. A gangland spectacle, it’s packed to the gills with action, explosions, and gunfire. In fact, Gunplay is so loud that no one notices the killing of Monte Field. In a sold-out theater, Field is found dead partway through the second act, surrounded by empty seats. The police hold the crowd and call for the one man who can untangle this daring murder: Inspector Richard Queen.

With the help of his son Ellery, a bibliophile and novelist whose imagination can solve any crime, the Inspector attacks this seemingly impenetrable mystery. Anyone in the theater could have killed the unscrupulous lawyer, and several had the motive. Only Ellery Queen, in his debut novel, can decipher the clue of the dead man’s missing top hat.

An auspicious start for a series which saw a total of 36 novels featuring detective Ellery Queen. Of those, Freading offers 23 books. Hopefully the rest will follow.

Book Cover: Drury Lane's Last Case by Ellery Queen The books available via Freading include the four-book series with Shakespearean actor and amateur sleuth Drury Lane, written by Lee and Dannay and originally published under the pen name of Barnaby Ross. The reissued eBooks carry the pen name of Ellery Queen.

Then there are eleven books which carry the pen name of “Ellery Queen” but do not feature the Queen detectives, five short story collections, and eight titles in Spanish:

Book Cover: Death Spins the Platter by Ellery Queen When a famous DJ is murdered mid-set, a reporter searches for the killer

From 3:00 to 4:00 every afternoon, Tutter “Tut” King reigns supreme. The dreamy disc jockey is a favorite of the sock-hop set, spinning all the records that are too rocking for their parents to let them buy. When Tut is implicated in a payola scheme—taking as much as $100,000 under-the-table to push third-rate records—his teenage fans stand behind him. For Tut’s last radio appearance, the teenyboppers turn out in force. He promises them a shocking announcement at the end of his set. Instead, they get a murder.

During intermission, some unfriendly listener buries an icepick in the record spinner’s chest. Reporter Jim Layton believes that Tut was about to implicate his bosses in the corruption. Now it’s up to Layton to determine who put radio’s coolest DJ on ice.

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