In one of his earliest cases, Ellery Queen confronts a murder in blue blood. From the very beginning, the Khalkis case struck a somber note. It began, as was peculiarly harmonious in the light of what was to come, with the death of an old man. Georg Khalkis, internationally famous art dealer and collector, died of heart failure. After his funeral, his attorney found that the will was missing and immediately called in the district attorney.
When Inspector Queen and his son, Ellery, are brought in to solve the mystery, Ellery mentions the one place they have not searched for the will: the coffin. Upon exhumation of the Khalkis coffin, they find that it contains not one body - but two!
Ellery Queen is one of the giants of American Detective fiction, but it's hard to tell from this over-written mess. Over-written is an understatement. The plot is a mess with several unexplained lapses in it (for example, how was the will stolen). Compounding this is the authors' inability to explain the action clearly. So convoluted is the writing and smothered by lavender prose that it is practically impossible to tell what is going on. Did I mention overwritten?
The plot is a weak variation of Hammett's brilliant "Dain Curse," and as they say in the mystery game, is not strictly "fair". Ellery withholds from the reader and, in fact, perpetrates a lie on the reader, so the reader's inability to solve the mystery is more a testimony to muddy writing and obfuscation than plotting genius.
And for fans' of the legendary TV show, Jim Hutton is the best thing to happen to Ellery Queen. The Ellery of this novel is not the absent-minded mystery of the later novels and TV show. This Ellery is such an insufferable dilettante I kept hoping he would be the next victim.
The narration doesn't help. Bad and poorly distinguished voices (I couldn't tell the difference between the District Attorney's voice and Inspector Queens) and a sickening penchant for drooling over each and every word of the prose made this 13 hour audiobook seem like 1300 hours.
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In this entry, Ellery is involved in a will case, where the deceased is exhumed, only to find another body added to the coffin! Lots of false clues here, and we get some classic Queen "false" solutions. The explanation of the crime is wordy, but probably necessary, due to the involved nature of the mystery. Trying to figure this one out will likely give you a headache.
The end is anti climax. Takes too long to tell even the simplest of plot lines. Narration of EQ is somewhat at odds to his character in this and other books. Not my fave EQ book.