cover image The Egyptian Cross Mystery

The Egyptian Cross Mystery

Ellery Queen. Penzler, $15.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-61316-178-4

This stellar 1932 mystery from Queen (the pen name of Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee) takes Manhattan amateur sleuth Ellery Queen to Arroyo, W.Va., to look into the murder of schoolmaster Andrew Van, who was crucified and beheaded on Christmas morning. Van’s headless corpse was nailed to a signpost in a posture that resembled the letter T, and the dead man’s blood was used to paint the same letter on the door of his nearby home. The motive for the killing is obscure, given that Van led an unremarkable life, apart from an indulgence in gourmet food. Queen and the locals get nowhere, until six months later when millionaire rug importer Thomas Brad is murdered in a similar fashion. The case gets even weirder before Queen provides a logical solution that highlights the author’s genius at misdirection. This brilliant fair play puzzle exemplifies the mission of the American Mystery Classics series. (Nov.)