Friday, June 16, 2023

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine July 1958

 Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (July 1958) edited by Ellery Queen

About four years ago, I picked up a batch of older EQ Mystery Magazines on Ebay because they had short stories by the Lockridges in them. In 2020, I put a number of the short stories down as part of the Deal Me in Challenge--but somehow (I'll blame it on the pandemic) I went off the rails on reading the short stories I had lined up for that. This is one of the collections that I didn't think I'd gotten to--but most of these stories had a very familiar feel to them. Perhaps they've been included in anthologies I've read along the way. I do know that I've read the Christie story before--but then I'm pretty sure I've read all of her work at some point. This is another strong group of stories, as one might expect from an issue dubbed the "all star issue." My favorites are "The Silent Informer," "Dead Boys Don't Remember," "Lioness vs. Panther," and "Tea Shop Assassin." ★★

"Hunting Day" by Hugh Pentecost: When a bad-tempered man is shot while out hunting for a dog he abused, there are several people in the area with cause to wish him dead. But it looks like the boy who rescued the dog might be responsible. Uncle George Crowder thinks there is another solution. (one drowned; one natural; one shot)

"Investigation by Telegram" (aka "The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge") by Agatha Christie: Poirot is sick and Hastings goes to Hunter's Lodge to be his eyes and ears when Harrington Pace is murdered by a mysterious man in a black beard. The beard is probably a disguise--but is it the only one? Poirot solves the case through messages sent to and from Hastings. (one shot)

"The Silent Informer" by Helen McCloy: Holmes made a deduction based on the dog who did nothing in the night-time. When a woman is killed at a charity dinner, Dr. Basil Willing makes a deduction about the culprit based on a muddy dog who does do something. (2 stabbed)

"The Man Who Lost His Taste" by Lawrence G. Blochman: A well-known tea-taster, who has a palate in a million, threatens suicide when he loses his sense of taste for no apparent reason. Dr. Daniel Webster Coffee is asked by the man's sister to try and find the cause. The very night Dr. Coffee meets him, Quentin Laird seems to have regained his taste. And yet later he's found dead from an apparently self-inflicted gun shot. (2 car accident; one shot)

"Dead Boys Don't Remember" by Frances & Richard Lockridge: Captain Heimrich is called on to assist in the hunt for a kidnapped boy. He's very much afraid that it's already too late--the boy is old enough to remember details about his kidnappers and Heimrich knows that dead boys can't remember details...

"An Official Position" by Somerset Maugham: The title refers to the position held by our protagonist Louis Remire. Louis is a prisoner who was convicted of murdering his shrewish wife. But he had held an official position before the crime and conducted himself well as a prisoner afterward, so he was offered the position of public executioner. This is France, so he maintains and operates the guillotine. Despite the fact that his fellow prisoners despise him, he comes to realize that for the first time he is happy. He's allowed more freedom than the other prisoners--can, in fact, go into town and go to his favorite fishing place. He doesn't have to worry about a place to live or food for his table and the only negative in his life (the constant nagging) is gone. All he wants to do is finish his sentence and be able to fish. But will he be allowed to do so? The man who previously held his position went missing and was later found killed.... (one stabbed) 

"Lioness vs. Panther" by Q. Patrick: A case of the butler got done in. Lieutenant Trant attends opening night for what promises to be the hottest play of the season. When the man playing the butler is poisoned on stage during the last scene, Trant must decide if the butler was the intended victim or maybe it was the leading lady who was originally supposed to down the last glass of Scotch. (one poisoned)

"Wanted: An Accomplice by Frederick Nebel: Stockwell comes up with what he believes to be a fool-proof plan to rob the bank where he has been employed for years--to pay them back for his lack of advancement on the ladder of success. All he needs is the perfect unsuspecting accomplice.... (one fell from height) 

"For Tom's Sake" by Sheila Kaye-Smith: When a poacher shoots one of the keepers of Scotney Castle, he appeals to his best friend Tom's mother for help in escaping justice. She has never been fond of the ne'er do well, but she agrees to do so...for Tom's sake. In the end, it's surprising what she will do for Tom's sake... (one shot)

"Nothing Is Impossible" by Clayton Rawson: This is more of a how-dunnit, than a whodunnit. It's pretty obvious who must have done it--if we don't believe the surface "evidence" that a little two-foot tall alien who walks through walls was responsible. The Great Merlini sets out to prove how the trick was done. (one shot)

"Tea Shop Assassin" by Michael Gilbert: Our narrator, a crime reporter, finds Superintendent Hazelrigg in a tea shop. The superintendent enlists his help in identifying Engels, a paid assassin. The police have received a tip that the man will be lying in wait to kill a man arriving at Victoria Station (across from the shop). Hazelrigg believes the reporter knows the man well and will be able to point him out....

Chicago Night's Entertainment" by Ben Hecht  (is actually a sketch from Hecht's A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago). Sergeant Kuzik of the first precinct is speaking to the unnamed journalist who provides the reader's point of view. Apparently, the journalist has asked Kuzik to relate some of his most interesting cases for a newspaper article. The sergeant insists that he needs time to remember his stories properly and the proceeds to give us little paragraph snapshots of some of his cases. We get a peek at the man who killed his wife and used her skull as an ashtray and the alderman who was a terrific hypnotist and convinced one of two burglars robbing his house that he (the burglar) was a policeman and he should shoot the other burglar, among others. (one hung; one poisoned; one burned; one shot)

"Carnival Day" by Nedra Tyre: When her father lets her down over going to the carnival, a little girl goes on her own--visiting booths that her father never would let her visit. But when she finally gets on her favorite ride--the merry-go-round, the one her father always rode with her--there he is among the other parents waiting for their children. But why is the policeman with him? 

First line (1st story): The death of Fred Simmons of natural causes would have been taken by the town of Lakeview as a downright blessing.

Last line (last story): The carnival around them was not yet the blur it would be when they went at full speed and Betty could still see Mr. Williams watching them, watching most of all her father, and the policeman's face was very sad.

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