The Official Writings

of Ellery Queen

Not all Ellery Queen novels were considered "official releases". Generally speaking, only those novels which featured Ellery Queen and his intrepid father, Inspector Richard Queen, were regarded as part of the Ellery Queen "canon." These were also the novels that were penned in whole or in part by Dannay and Lee themselves -- as opposed to works for hire done by other authors under the Queen monicker. Even the weakest EQ novel is still an excellent "experiment in detection" -- worthy of perusal by anyone interested in mystery fiction. Ellery Queen novels often offer something interesting and new, medically, scientifically, or in forensics. Ellery frequently astounds the reader with his knowledge of other languages, and at times, word origins. Ellery Queen is the intellectual's intellectual, and yet as human and fallable as his readers upon occasion. The exception that establishes the rule of "official releases" is The Golden Summer, which is an official release (see below) although it is more about Danny Nathan (Fred Dannay) than it is about mysteries. Without further hoopla, here is the Queen Canon:

The Roman Hat Mystery
First Appearance: June, 1929; Frederick Stokes
Official Publication Date: August 16, 1929
First Paperback Appearance: October, 1940; Pocket Books 77
"Gets our class A rating." -- Chicago Daily News


Beacause they believed it to be in a class by itself, the original publishers of The Roman Hat Mystery chose it from more than 100 selected manuscripts as their contribution to mystery fiction of the year. The subsequent acclaim of the critics -- they called it "brilliant," "ingenious," "fascinating," "intriguing," "swift-moving" -- proved that the publisher's choice was a shrewd one.
Following no hackneyed formula, this mystery offers a fool-proof plot of fascinating complexity, a theatrically romantic setting, and a most ingenious deductive pattern that is plausible, gripping throughout, and wholly original in weave. The essential clue is a missing tophat. On the surface it appears to be of minor significance, yet about this elusive thread the entire amazing tale revolves. Every fact necessary to the solution is given; yet we challenge the most ardent amateur criminologists to decuce the startling dénouement.

The French Powder Mystery
First Appearance: June, 1930; Frederick Stokes
First Paperback Appearance: August, 1940; Pocket Books 71
"A brilliant, thrilling, ingenious story." -- William Lyon Phelps


The French Powder Mystery is a spell-binding tale of crime, intrigue, and extraordinary detection. At crowded noon, in front of Fifth Avenue's most fashionable department store, while hundreds of sidewalk onlookers watch a demonstration of modernistic furniture in the window, the demonstrator touches a button regulating a concealed wall-bed--the bed swings out of the wall--and from its dark recesses tumbles the distorted, crumpled corpse of a beautiful woman....

"The logical successor to Sherlock Holmes." -- London Times
"Ellery Queen belongs with Sherlock Holmes, Arsene Lupin, Philo Vance, and other master-minds. -- William Lyon Phelps

The Dutch Shoe Mystery
First Appearance: August, 1931; Frederick Stokes
First Paperback Appearance: Fall, 1940; Mercury Mystery 17 (abridged)
Other Paperback Appearance: December, 1942 (issued 2/43); Pocket Books 202
"carefully constructed ... deserves to be savored. -- London Times


A tragic fall -- an impending operation -- strangulation! When Abigail Doorn was wheeled into the operating room at the Dutch Memorial Hospital, her face was strangely blue and bloated. A wire had been tightly wound around her neck. The strongest suspect, because he stood to benefit by the death of this wealthy old woman, was her protegé, the famous Dr. Janney. Just before her death he received a strange caller -- one whose name he would not divulge.

The Greek Coffin Mystery
First Appearance: April, 1932; Frederick Stokes
First Paperback Appearance: 1942; Pocket Books 179
There was something wrong about the death of Georg Khalkis from the first. The discreet tears of the mourners as his earthly remains were lowered into the family vault changed quickly into surprise and anger. During the funeral, the metal box containing the last will and testament of Georg Khalkis had vanished from the library safe. At Ellery's suggestion, the coffin was searched. To the horror of the watchers, when the coffin was unearthed, a second corpse, strangled and malodorous, was found with the late Georg Khalkis. Such is only the beginning of the case....

The Egyptian Cross Mystery
First Appearance: September, 1932; Frederick Stokes
First Paperback Appearance: June, 1941; Mercury Bestseller B17
August, 1943; Pocket Books 227
"Ellery Queen's weirdest adventure."


On Christmas Eve, an eccentric schoolmaster in the little town of Arroyo, W. Va., was brutally murdered. He was found with his head cut off, crucified on a sign post at a cross roads near his house. In the course of the next year, three other men, in various places, were found with their heads cut off, crucified likewise in the form of a T. Everyone working on the case, including Ellery Queen, was completely baffled.

The American Gun Mystery
First Appearance: 1933; Frederick Stokes
First Paperback Appearance: 1941; Mercury Mystery 42 (abridged)
Next Paperback Appearance: 1943; Dell Mystery 4
This mystery is about...
  • A $5000 horse
  • Glass balls shot in mid-air
  • A horrible scar
  • A thirsty horse that would not drink
  • A $3000 check
  • Ivory inlays on an old six-shooter
  • A search of 20,000 suspects
  • A small bank balance
  • A newsreel scoop of a murder
  • A $42,000 gambling debt
  • The 41st cowboy who wasn't a cowboy

The Siamese Twin Mystery
First Appearance: October, 1933; Frederick Stokes
First Paperback Appearance: January 3, 1941; Mercury Mystery 36 (abridged)
Second Paperback Appearance: June, 1941; Pocket Books 109


...a raging forest fire that threatens to envelop the mountain-top to which they cling, helpless and bewildered -- and the fiery lust of a murderer who they know is one of their number -- a group of common people in an uncommon situation!

The Chinese Orange Mystery
First Appearance: April, 1934; Frederick Stokes
First Paperback Appearance: September, 1939; Pocket Books 17


Inspector Richard Queen wanted to know the identity of the murdered man. How could he solve a murder mystery without knowing who was murdered? The body was found in a private room of the Hotel Chancellor; no one connected with the investigation had ever seen the man before. His name, where he came from, why he was there, remain a mystery to the end. Yet all who were enmeshed in the web of tragedy found their lives changed by the death of the nameless nobody.

The Spanish Cape Mystery
First Appearance: February, 1935; Redbook
First Hardback Appearance: March, 1935; Frederick Stokes
First Paperback Appearance: April, 1942; Pocket Books 146


John Marco, handsome despoiler of women, is found murdered on the beach of Spanish Cape. This piece of land and rock juts out into the Atlantic like some sleeping monster. It is owned by an eccentric millionaire, Walter Godfrey. At the time of Marco's death a number of ill-assorted people are visiting at Spanish Cape. Marco seemed to have some kind of an evil hold over these desperate women. But strangely enough, of all the people gathered there, his was the only face that did not wear the tense mask of dread.
When Marco's body was discovered, he was sitting naked in a chair on the beach. His corpse was completely naked with the exception of a long opera cape draped about him. Fortunately, Ellery Queen was vacationing nearby....

The Lamp of God
First Appearance: 1935; Detective Story
First Paperback Appearance: c. 40's; Dell 10c Series #23
"Suspect everything, everybody. Be careful, Mr. Queen, as if your life depended on it."
THE LAMP OF GOD was what Ellery Queen named the light that gave him the clue which helped solve one of the most eerie cases in his career -- the case of the disappearing house containing a fortune in gold, and a murder plot that was almost beyond belief.

Note: The Lamp of God was collected as part of The New Adventures of Ellery Queen. In 1942, it appeared in the Street and Smith anthology, All Fiction Detective Stories, where it was renamed "House of Haunts".

Halfway House
First Appearance: June, 1936; Cosmopolitan
First Hardback Appearance: July, 1936; Frederick Stokes
First Paperback Appearance: April, 1944; Pocket Books 259
paperback comes in regular and "sideways" experimental editions


HALFWAY HOUSE, where a strange man finds final rest on his tortured journey through life...HALFWAY HOUSE, where, under the grim shadow of a sensational murder, opposites meet and clash -- common peddler and financier, young housewife and cold society woman, struggling lawyer and millionaire débutante....HALFWAY HOUSE, where Ellery Queen, crime consultant to the world-at-large, returns to his old love of pure and pungent deduction in what is unquestionably his most fascinating narrative of real people and subtle violence.

The Door Between
First Appearance: December, 1936; Cosmopolitan
First Hardback Appearance: March, 1937; J.B. Lippencott
First Paperback Appearance: 1940; Mercury Mystery 10 (abridged)
Next Paperback Appearance: August, 1947; Pocket Books 471

"Dead Women Tell No Tales"

Karen Leith was dead. She had died quite alone, in a small, secluded room in her weird Greenwich Village house.
It was, of course, suicide. some hideous secret long ago had transformed Karen into a silent, unhappy woman -- a woman who found escape only when she was at work on one of her brilliant novels.
Ellery Queen was one of the few who doubted the suicide theory. As he penetrated deeper and deeper into Karen's past, he became certain that the woman had been murdered -- killed in as clever and horrifying manner as he had ever encountered.

The Devil to Pay
First Appearance: December, 1937; Cosmopolitan
First Hardback Appearance: January, 1938; Frederick Stokes
First Paperback Appearance: 1940; Mercury Mystery 5 (abridged)
Next Paperback Appearance: October, 1944; Pocket Books 270
This, the fourteenth Queen to be introduced to America's largest book-buying public, presents a blonde and a exotic actress, Winni Moon, and her scented chimpanzee; a murder which became a managing editor's dream; Pink, an athlete from Flatbush, Brooklyn; Solly Spaeth, an unethical financier from New York. And Queen is literally King in The Devil to Pay, when he masquerades as Hilary "Scoop" King.

The Four of Hearts
First Appearance: August, 1938; Cosmopolitan
First Hardback Appearance: August, 1938; Frederick Stokes
First Paperback Appearance: November, 1943; Pocket Books 245


The setting is Hollywood, and something is happening all the time....It's expertly solved, with an effective extra turnover at the end resulting in a surprising and thrillful finish.

The Dragon's Teeth
First Appearance: August, 1939; Frederick Stokes
First Paperback Appearance: August, 1947; Pocket Books 457

The Teeth of the Evidence

When a very odd but important millionaire was buried at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea, it might have embarrassed Ellery Queen. After all, the millionaire had been the first client of Ellery Queen, Inc. And now the client had joined the mackerels he was deader than. The crew of his yacht was scattered, and there was no autopsy to suggest the ways and means of death....For clues they had one fountain pen covered with tooth marks, and a few additional corpses.

Calamity Town
First Appearance: April, 1942; Little, Brown, and Co.
First Paperback Appearance: February, 1945; Pocket Books 283


It all starts when Ellery Queen goes to a small town, disguised as Ellery Smith, to write a novel. He moves into a little house originally built for Nora Wright, whose fiancé, Jim Haight, had left town on the eve of the wedding three years before. Then Jim comes back, and things begin to happen. There are the three post-dated letters, for instance, and the attempted arsenic poisonings, which convince Ellery that someone is going to be murdered -- but who? and why?

There Was an Old Woman
First Appearance: March, 1943; Little, Brown, and Co.
First Paperback Appearance: November, 1945; Pocket Books 326


Before the last echo of the shot had trailed down Riverside Drive, Ellery Queen realized that he had just witnessed a murder. Robert Potts lay shot through the heart. Not only had Ellery Queen been a witness, but also Inspector Richard Queen and Sergeant Velie. Yet not one of them knew who committed the murder.
This is the story of the Old Woman (Cornelia Potts), who lived with all her children (six) in the incredible Potts "palace" on Riverside Drive -- on its front lawn a great, bronze Oxford complete with trailing bronze shoelaces. Over the household hovers a ruthless killer who fits his cold-blooded crimes into the pattern of a Mother Goose rhyme.

The Murderer is a Fox
First Appearance: May, 1945; Little, Brown, and Co.
First Paperback Appearance: May, 1948; Pocket Books 517

"Why did you try to strangle your wife?"

"You don't understand, Mr. Queen," Linda Fox interrupted. "It's not Davy's fault."
"I'd rather your husband spoke for himself, Mrs. Fox," remarked Ellery, studying Davy with his silver eyes. "Well, Captain Fox? Why did you try to kill your wife?"
Davy glared at him. But then his glance fell, and he seized his glass and gulped.
"Because," he said in the most hopeless of voices, "my father killed his."

Ten Day's Wonder
First Appearance: October, 1948; Little, Brown, and Co.
First Paperback Appearance: November, 1950; Pocket Books 740


These are the people who formed the triangle:
Howard Van Horn -- a young sculptor suffering from strange attacks of amnesia. He goes in despiration to Ellery Queen with a baffling problem.
Diedrich Van Horn -- Howard's millionaire foster father. His money bought him a wife tailor-made to his specifications. He needed Ellery Queen too -- but for a more sinister reason.
Sally -- the young and beautiful wife. She came from the wrong side of the tracks but moved in the Van Horn mansion with complete assurance.
Ellery Queen finds a pattern of sins that leads irrevocably to murder.

Cat of Many Tails
First Appearance: September, 1949; Little, Brown, and Co.
First Paperback Appearance: November, 1951; Pocket Books 822
FEAR stole thorugh the city of New York like a choking fog. Within five months, nine people had been strangled to death! And the unknown killer was still at large! Like a savage cat, the murderer pounced without warning, choosing his victims at random. No one was safe. The City was in a panic!
ELLERY QUEEN, ordered on the case by the mayor, beleived that there was an insane method to these murders. The facts were clearly laid out like nine neat corpses. But where did they connect? Queen knew that if he waited long enough a pattern of clues would emerge and point straight to the killer. But in the meantime...


Double, Double
First Appearance: June, 1950; Little, Brown, and Co.
First Paperback Appearance: July, 1952; Pocket Books 874
There were three deaths before ELLERY QUEEN was called in on the case ...
  1. Luke MacCaby - A "heart-attack" killed Wrightsville's Town Hermit and revealed that he had left a fortune of $4,000,000!
  2. Johan Spencer Hart, The Wealthiest Man in Town, committed "suicide" and was discovered to have been penniless!
  3. Tom Anderson, the Town Drunk, "disappeared", leaving only his hat and coat at the edge of a cliff!
But that was only the beginning. Soon there was another "death," then another, and another ... until MURDER HAD STRUCK SEVEN TIMES. The most diabolic killer Ellery Queen had ever known was on the loose ... AND HE LEFT NO CLUES!

The Origin of Evil
First Appearance: April, 1951; Little, Brown, and Co.
First Paperback Appearance: April, 1953; Pocket Books 926
ELLERY QUEEN was sun-bathing in the doorway of his Hollywood bedroom when the pretty young girl appeared. She was dressed in zebra-striped culottes and bolero over a bra-like doodad of bright green suede. Green open-toed sandals on her tiny feet. A small and slender number, but three-dimensional where it counted.
"You are sort of pale, aren't you?" she said. "And your ribs stick out." And then: "I don't think there's anything funny in a dead dog, do you?"
"Dogs die all the time," Ellery said in a kindly voice.
The girl stared down at her cigaret. "He was a ... gift, and it killed my father."
"How exactly did a dead dog 'kill' your father?"
"It murdered him."

The King is Dead
First Appearance: May, 1952; Little, Brown, and Co.
First Paperback Appearance: May, 1954; Pocket Books 1005


Judah Bendigo calmly announced that he would commit a murder. The victim: his brother King, the richest man in the world. The announced day: June 21. The time: exactly 12:00 midnight.


The case was the most frustrating in Queen's career. For how could King Bendigo, closely guarded behind steel doors, be shot by Judah, whom Ellery was watching in another room?
But at exactly 12:00 midnight King Bendigo slumped forward with a small black bullet hole in his left breast. Ellery Queen had failed to prevent an "impossible" murder. For once, the world's perfect detective had found the world's most perfect crime.

The Golden Summer
First Appearance: March, 1953; Little, Brown, and Co.
First Paperback Appearance: None (?)
Shown as by Daniel Nathan, this "Dannay" novel is autobiographical, providing background information on Danny and his famous cousin.

Do you remember --

the old dirt road in front of your boyhood home and the first time it was paved?
the thrill of putting on your own "show" and charging pins or pennies for admission?
the splendor and excitement of a circus parade rolling down the main street of a small town?
the magical books, the scrumptuous candies, the wondrous toys of boyhood?
the triumphs and failures, the ecstasies and humiliations -- of being a ten-year-old boy?

... these are some of the fond recollections you will share with Daniel Nathan -- as you relive THE GOLDEN SUMMER of your own childhood.

The Scarlet Letters
First Appearance: May, 1953; Little, Brown, and Co.
First Paperback Appearance: February, 1955; Pocket Books 1049

"Lovers' quarrel?"

said a voice. Martha Lawrence quivered.
Ellery turned.
Dirk Lawrence stood behind the bench. The reek of whisky surrounded him. "My little Martha," Dirk said dreamily. "My little nymph."
"Martha," Ellery said, "you'd better go."
"Yes Martha, my love, you do that," said Dirk. "On account of I'm doing to teach this dirty little feist to keep his paws off another man's wife...."
Dirk backhanded Martha's face across the bench and she disappeared. Involuntarily, Ellery stooped to look for her. He never reached his knees. The blow nearly tore his head off and he blacked out.

The Glass Village
First Appearance: August, 16, 1954; Little, Brown, and Co.
First Paperback Appearance: September, 1955; Pocket Books 1082
For thirty years old Judge Shinn has delivered the Fourth of July oration on the little village green. He has said again and again: "There is no liberty without justice," and "Let one man be deprived of his liberty, or his property or his life without due process of law, and the liberty and property and lives of us all are in danger." When mere accusation takes the place of evidence, freedom is in peril.
What happens after the murder is the story of what Johnny Shinn -- late of Army Intelligence and veteran of two wars, in spite of himself, does about it. the tense lynch trial that is the focus of the action is really the trial of Johnny Shinn as an American.

Inspector Queen's Own Case
First Appearance: 1956; Little, Brown, and Co.
First Paperback Appearance: 1957; Pocket Books 1167
Ellery's father was spending the summer with friends at their beach house on the Connecticut shore. It should have been a golden summer, but all the Inspector could think about was his enforced uselessness. The old pro had been retired -- the Administrative Code made no exceptions when a New York police officer reached the age of 63. How was he to occupy the endless days? ... He needed something to do.
Her name was Jessie Sherwood, a registered nurse in her late 40s, lonely, still pretty, and all woman. Jessie had been hired by the blueblood Humffreys to take charge of their newborn infant. When queer, frightening things began to take place in that multimillionaire home...
A helpless baby, a unique romance, and a tensely plotted tale of multiple murder mounting to a shocking climax make Inspector Queen's Own Case one of the most supurb novels to come from Ellery Queen's typewriter.

The Finishing Stroke
First Appearance: 1958; Little, Brown, and Co.
First Paperback Appearance: 1959; Cardinal Books C-343
The most baffling mystery ever encountered by Ellery Queen, the one he couldn't solve even though he knew the answer.
A gay Christmas house party in a snowbound mansion turns suddenly grim when a spoilsport guest begins sending anonymous gifts to his hosts. The presents are mysterious, the accompanying messages are cryptic, but the meaning behind it all is very clear.
It is a slow, deliberate warning of murder -- scheduled to arrive on the twelfth night with the final gift -- THE FINISHING STROKE.

The Player on the Other Side
First Appearance: September, 1963; Random House
First Paperback Appearance: January, 1965; Pocket Books 50487
Partly ghost-written by Theodore Sturgeon from an outline by EQ; edited by EQ.

The murders began with a note:

Dear Walt:
I know who you really are.
I know the skill of your hands.
I know the quality of your obedience. I know what you think.
I know what you want. I know your great destiny.
I like you

Walt was handyman of York Square, home of the four surviving heirs to the York fortune. There was Robert York -- stern and exact in his movements; Myra York -- a gentle beauty whose life was withering away; Emily York -- who turned her lavish home into a bare Trappist cell; and Percival York -- playboy, gambler, and drunkard.
These were the people whose lives were threatened by the mysterious "Y" -- but who or which was "Y"?

And on the Eighth Day
First Appearance: March, 1964; Random House
First Paperback Appearance: January, 1966; Pocket Books 50209
Partly ghost-written by Avram Davidson from an outline by EQ; edited by EQ.


It was the last thing that Ellery Queen ever expected to encounter. He was on his way from Los Angeles to New York. He took a wrong turn. Suddenly there it was, a figure standing on the cliff above him.
It was a man -- an old man dressed in a hooded brown robe. In one hand he carried a crooked staff, in the other a curiously shaped instrument, something like a trumpet. As Ellery got out of the Duesenberg and walked toward him, the old man turned his gaunt profile and jutting beard.
"The Word be with you."
And thus began one of the most curious adventures that has ever befallen Ellery Queen.

The Fourth Side of the Triangle
First Appearance: December 19 and 26, 1964; Toronto Star Weekly
First Appearance: October, 1965; Random House
First Paperback Appearance: August, 1967; Pocket Books 50508
Partly ghost-written by Avram Davidson from an outline by EQ; edited by EQ.
Frightfully rich and awesomely respectable, the McKells had never been touched by scandal.
At least, not until Dane McKell discovered his father's secret affair. Determined to protect his mother, he forced a meeting with the other woman.
But Dane didn't count on falling in love with her himself. Nor did he count on the front page murder that engulfed them all.

Face to Face
First Appearance: 1967; the New American Library
First Paperback Appearance: March, 1968; Signet P3424
The only clue to the murder of Gloria Guild, the singing "Glory" of the Thirties, is her dying scrawl,
Why face? Whose face?
Ellery Queen pursues the Glory riddle from the Bowery to a way-out wedding -- and a surprise climax that will jolt you into cold shock.
"If the solution doesn't surprise you, you've peeked ahead to the finish." -- Houston Chronicle

The House of Brass
First Appearance: 1968; the New American Library
First Paperback Appearance: April, 1969; Signet T3831


That was how the invitations should have read when aged millionaire Hendrik Brass sent out his messages to six oddly assorted men and women who knew neither him nor each other.
All arrived at the isolated Brass mansion, lured by the tantalizing promise of fabulous wealth. But from the moment the shining brass doors of the grotesquely constructed house swung shut behind them, they began to realize they had been enticed into playing parts in a monstrous joke...the joke of a twisted, brilliant mind...a joke whose punch line was murder.

The Last Woman in His Life
First Appearance: 1969; World Publishing
First Paperback Appearance: April, 1971; Signet T4580
The green wig belonged to a redheaded Vegas show girl. The sequined gown had highlighted the bouncy silhouette of a blonde off-Broadway actress. The long evening gloves were the property of a bosomy smalltown nurse. These were more than an inventory of ladies' wear. For they were found on the scene of a brutal crime during a hideaway weekend, near the body of an internationally known jet-setter notorious for his pursuit of beautiful women. What did they mean? ... There is the victim's dying message. There is the mysterious woman to whom the trail is long and difficult. Above all there is the question: Who was THE LAST WOMAN IN HIS LIFE?

A Fine and Private Place
First Appearance: 1971; World Publishing
First Paperback Appearance: August, 1972; Signet Q4978



The 9-word clue was one of 9 cryptic notes that had been sent to taunt Inspector Queen and Ellery 9 days after the murder.
Killers, of course, had challenged the master crime solver before. But none so cleverly. The 9-fingered millionaire Nino Importuna has been obsessed with the number. He had lived by it. And now the killer who brought a trio of gory deaths to Nino's fabulous ninth-floor penthouse at number 99 East was camouflaging his identity in a jungle of 9's. And then daring Ellery to find him.

The Tragedy of Errors
First Appearance: October, 1999; Crippen & Landru (250 numbered copies)
First Paperback Appearance: October, 1999; Crippen & Landru
"The Tragedy of Errors" is the lengthy and detailed plot outline for the final, but never published EQ novel, containing all the hallmarks of the greatest Queen novels -- the dying message, the succession of false solutions before the astonishing truth is revealed, and scrupulous fairplay to the reader. And the theme is one that Quen had been developing for many years: the manipulation of events in a world going mad by someone who aspires to the power of gods.

The volume also contains short stories; see the short story page of this website for more details.

Ellery Queen

All book liner notes are taken from hardback notes or from paperback notes published by Pocket Books, Dell, Signet, or another publisher.