11 February 2011
Ellery Queen on Kindle
When I was growing up, Ellery Queen was one of my five favorite crime novelists. (The others were John Dickson Carr, Agatha Christie, Erle Stanley Gardner and Rex Stout.) I read my first several Queen novels in Pocket Books priced at 25 cents, and by the time I'd made my way through the canon I was paying well over a dollar apiece for the 1970s Signet editions of Queen with the mod cover photos. If you had told me then that Ellery Queen would ever be virtually out of print, I would have found it inconceivable. And yet.... There are many reasons for publishers' neglect of Queen. Suffice it to say that all of that seems to changing with this morning's release for Kindle of three mysteries from Queen's heyday. Halfway House is a good place to start, coming as it does immediately after the nine novels (the earliest is The Roman Hat Mystery) with parallel nationality-plus-noun titles: Halfway House can be seen as marking Queen's turn from the series's overly cerebral beginnings to the more complex psychological content that culminates in the Wrightsville novels (starting with the superb Calamity Town). I haven't read Halfway House in about 50 years, but it was a favorite and I'm returning to it with great eagerness; its successor, The Door Between, I did reread recently and found to be every bit as good as I had remembered it. For today's Kindle releases (and their print counterparts) we're indebted to Agatha Christie's great-grandson James Prichard and his latest project, The Langtail Press. More to come.