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The Siamese Twin Mystery

Page history last edited by Pietro De Palma 5 years, 6 months ago

Queen, Ellery - The Siamese Twin Mystery (1933)


For this novel, the inventive Ellery Queen gives the reader not just an American country house murder, but a country house murder in an isolated location, namely the top of a mountain surrounded by an out- of-control forest fire. How's that for a setting? Very good, let me assure you!


The tension caused by the approach of the deadly fire is effectively combined with what is -- in my reading at least -- the ne plus ultra in dying message puzzle plots to produce what I believe to be an authentic classic of the genre. In the resolution the puzzle is deciphered cleanly by our intrepid Ellery, with less of the logical contortions required in some other Queens I have read. This is not to say it is strictly realistic (admittedly a crime like this could only take place in the Queenian world), but it carries greater plausibility and there is narrative urgency aplenty.


The combination of rigorous puzzle with the tension of of a Mignon Eberhart novel (the setting reminded me a good bit of the snowbound lodge in Eberhart's Mystery at Hunting's End, which preceded TSTM by three years) is very effective indeed. The author revels in his usual logician's tortures, providing four different solutions over the course of the story, but the tale has an unusual dramatic heft as well because of the element of a killing fire. The tension of both the teasing puzzle and the advancing fire lasts until the last, highly effective pages. Great job.



see also http://deathcanread.blogspot.it/2012/08/the-double-common-denominator-in-twin.html 

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