Monday, February 19, 2024

Ellery Queen's Anthology 1966 Mid-Year Edition

 Ellery Queen's Anthology 1966 Mid-Year Edition
(1966; all stories pre-1960) by Ellery Queen, ed.

I'm still working my way through the Ellery Queen collections/magazines that I've picked up over the last several years. This is another great collection with familiar (to me) names such as Steinbeck, the Lockridges, Crispin, Starrett, and the like. I've read one novel by L.A.G. Strong (All Fall Down) and have Kersh's Prelude to a Certain Midnight sitting on the TBR stacks. I appreciated Strong's novel much more than the short story included here. In fact, Strong and Kersh's stories share a common theme--they're about incidents that may or may not have happened exactly as related. My favorites in this anthology are those by Woolrich, the Lockridges, Walsh, Kantor, and Carr--but overall this is a very strong collection. ★★★★

"All at Once, No Alice" by Cornell Woolrich: Our narrator, Jimmy Cannon, fell head over heels in love with Alice Brown and his feelings were returned. So, after a very (VERY) short courtship, they elope--are married by a justice of the peace along the way and due to a shortage of hotel space in the town where they land for their honeymoon, have to sleep apart on their honeymoon. When Jimmy goes to collect his new bride the next morning, she's gone. And so is all trace that she ever existed. Only one man believes him...but will they find her in time?

"How Mr. Hogan Robbed a Bank" by John Steinbeck: Mr. Hogan is just your average grocery store manager who comes up with a fool-proof plan to rob the bank next door to the grocery store.

"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...

"You Can't Love Two Women" by L. A. G. Strong: Maurice has been carrying on an affair and the strain of keeping secrets is getting to be just to much. If it goes on much longer he's going to lose his he dreams up a plan that will give him an alibi. [one stabbed]

"The Clue of the Scattered Rubies" by Erle Stanley Gardner: Sidney Zoom is the only one who believes Eva Paine didn't kill her father-in-law for a fortune in rubies. But the evidence doesn't look good... [two shot]

"I Killed John Harrigan" by Thomas Walsh: Walter believes he has pulled off the perfect murder--killing a well-known loan shark who was bleeding him dry. But his conscience won't let him see an innocent man executed... [one shot; one executed]

"The Grave Grass Question" by MacKinlay Kantor: Dr. George Martindale's father and brother were killed when he was a young boy and he promised his mother he'd get the man (men) who did it. He just didn't know it would take almost 60 years to do it... [two hit on head]

"Blind Man's Bluff" by Roy Vickers: When a blind man decides to murder the man in love with his wife, he thinks the police will be too blind to see how it was done. He doesn't realize that the one clue he himself can't see will give him away a few years later. [one natural; one hanged]

"The Crime by the River" by Edmund Crispin: A servant girl in the house across the river from the Chief Constable is dead. The Superintendent thinks he know who did it. Much depends on how one of the men in the case got to the Chief Constable's house... [one strangled; one shot]

"£5000 for a Confession" by L. J. Beeston: A journalist, a doctor, an actor-manager, and an amateur detective walk into The Yellow Club...and the amateur detective has a tale of burglary to tell. With an unexpected punch line.

"Karmesin & the Crown Jewels" by Gerald Kersh: Kamesin is offered seven million dollars to steal the crown jewels of England for King Tombala of South America...

"This Was Willi's Day" by Aaron Marc Stein: Willi is a gigolo with big dreams and he makes slow plans to make those dreams come true. Then he meets a woman who puts those dreams on fast-forward.  [one fell from height]

"Blackmail" by Stephen McKenna: A man is unwise enough to tell a group of fellow passengers how he thinks a good blackmailer should operate. And then puts himself into the hands of his star pupil... [one natural]

"Murder on St. Valentine's Day" by Mignon G. Eberhart: Our narrator, James Wickwire, is a senior vice president at the local bank. He manages the estates of various widows who are clients of the bank. Most of them cause him anxiety--but not Clarissa--she had always kept her head when it came to money matters. Could balance a bank book with the best of them and never fell for wild cat schemes. That is until the day a young assistant cashier brought him a check for $20,000 written in lipstick on a dainty, lace, heart-shaped handkerchief from Clarissa to an unknown handsome young man. He thinks Clarissa has finally fallen for a slick line...but he didn't expect it to lead to murder. [one shot]

"A Piece of String" by Clarence Budington Kelland: Things look black for old man Asbury's grandson when the man is found dead and the only way into his room was through Ransome Asbury's room. But Asbury's old friend Scattergood Baines finds the answer to the puzzle in a piece of string and a broken ice pick. [one hit on head]

"The Tragedy of Papa Ponsard" by Vincent Starrett: Papa Ponsard is a book store owner who dreads parting with his books and yet he knows he must sell some or be ruined--for he owes 300 francs in back rent and fears every day that Monsieur Gebhart will show up and kick him out of his shop. But few customers enter his store these days. So he starts cataloguing his books so he can try to draw in customers through the mail. Then an innocent change (on the part of his daughter's suitor) in a book's price results in an unexpected twist of fate--both wonderful and tragic.

"Taboo" by Geoffrey Household: Our narrator, a psychologist, tells the story of a visit to the village of Zweibergen in the Carpathian mountains. Local men began vanishing without a trace and the villagers began to whisper of creatures in the night. He and another visitor decide to keep watch and trap the killer--whether man or beast--with lasting effects for both of them. [two shot]

"The Silver Curtain" by John Dickson Carr: Jerry Winton is having terrible luck at the gaming tables. Then a man comes along and offers him ten thousand francs to just go to a doctor's house and pick up some pills. Sounds like an easy way to earn some much-needed cash. But then that same fellow winds up dead with a knife in his back outside the doctor's establishment...and there's no one around but Jerry. And he didn't do it. Fortunately, Colonel March of Scotland Yard is on hand to explain what happened and who really did it. [one stabbed]

"Bride in Danger" by Ellery Queen: Ellery has been invited as an eligible bachelor (the bride's mother is hoping to do a little more matchmaking) to a wedding in Wrightsville. He finds himself serving as a repository for various secrets and almost winds up attending a funeral for the bride instead of a reception for the happy couple. His eye for the right word helps him identify the person with murderous intentions toward Dr. Farnham's intended.  

"The Girl Who Lived Dangerously" by Hugh Pentecost: A man who runs rigged carnival games finds himself caught up in a much more deadly game when his helper is killed--apparently over a poker game gone wrong. [two shot; one hit on head]

First line (1st story): It was over so quickly I almost thought something had been left out, but I guess he'd been doing it long enough to know his business.

Last line (last story): "Let's get out of here, Jeff," he said.

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