Ellery Queen: The Art of Detection

Francis M Nevins, Author
Francis M. Nevins. Perfect Crime Books (Ingram, dist.), $19.95 trade paper (346p) ISBN 978-1-935797-47-0
Reviewed on: 02/04/2013
Release date: 01/01/2013
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In his second book about two Brooklyn-born cousins who redefined the detective novel under the collective pseudonym Ellery Queen, two-time Edgar Award winner Nevins digs deeper into their lives and extraordinary body of work. Manfred B. Lee and Frederic Dannay (born Manford Lepofsky and Daniel Nathan in 1905, nine months and five blocks apart) began their writing career by entering a contest in 1928 on "a lark" and eventually launched Ellery Queen into a multi-media brand that included radio, film, television, and magazines. Settling on the name "Ellery Queen" to serve as both author and detective, Lee and Dannay (who died in 1971 and 1982, respectively) latched onto such motifs as manipulative murderers and deliberate clues, their simple early works evolving into complex psychological and allegorical novels like 1942's Calamity Town and 1948's Ten Days' Wonder. Nevins (Royal Bloodline), an accomplished mystery writer himself who was edited by Dannay, interjects first-person observations into his otherwise straightforward text and provides both plot summaries and critiques. In light of Nevins's displeasure at the incompleteness of his original 1974 effort, and considering the wealth of professional and personal information, it's tempting to call this definitive. (Jan.)
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