#355: Change a Letter, Alter the Plot

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If you’ve been paying attention, especially to my comments left both here and elsewhere, you’ll be aware that my typing is rather famously variable.  90% of the time I’m good, but that other 10% — man, some errors there are.  Writing something recently, I made reference to the novel Five Little Pugs by Agatha Christie and then — catching myself in time to correct it — I had a thought…

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#335: Stand Not Upon the Order of Your Going – Do You Get the Most Out of an Author by Reading Them Chronologically?

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In light of my recent favourable experience with Ellery Queen’s The Chinese Orange Mystery (1934), my thoughts turn to the benefits and pitfalls of reading GAD authors’ novels in chronological order.  The old joke is that they had to write them in that order, but is there any real benefit or detriment in reading them so arrayed?

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#334: The Chinese Orange Mystery (1934) by Ellery Queen

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Sure, laugh it up.  Just a few short months ago I stated my intention to read the entirety of the output of Manny Lee and/or Frederic Dannay under the Ellery Queen nom de plume, and here I am — some struggles later — jumping ahead to a more warmly-perceived title.  I’m not happy about it myself, I much prefer to do these things chronologically, but equally I want to want to read their books again.  I’ve loved some, been unaffected by others, and abominated a handful, and as such Queen remains a problem child for me.  So here I am, back on the horse in a different town, mixing metaphors with the best of ’em.  And the result…?

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#239: Construction, Clarity, Conformity, and the Contortions of Ellery Queen in The French Powder Mystery (1930)

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Contrary to what the books may tell us, the father of Ellery Queen, detective, is not Inspector Richard Queen but instead Philo Vance, the dilettante amateur wise-arse detective created by S.S. van Dine.  I’m not claiming this is an original observation — far from it — but reading the second novel to feature the Queens and the first in which Ellery actually solves the case (he has a very small hand in their debut, The Roman Hat Mystery) it’s interesting to realise just how heavily Dannay and Lee were leaning on van Dine at this point of their careers.

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