Friday, September 16, 2016

"How Did He Get Out of the House with a Dozen Detectives Watching Every Possible Exit?"

"Mr. Short and Mr. Long."
(a.k.a.: "The Disappearance of Mr. James Phillimore").
By Ellery Queen (1905-71; 1905-82).
An episode of The Adventures of Ellery Queen radio series. First broadcast: January 14, 1943.
Reprinted in The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes (1944) (online HERE, with an EQ preface) and The Adventure of the Murdered Moths (2005).
Play script at The Generic Radio Workshop HERE.
(Note: At least seven websites claim to have the audio version, but what they really have is the same wrong title. Does anybody listen to their own content?)
"I looked my eyes out! Every room. . . . He ain't here."

   MR. JAMES PHILLIMORE . . . who disappears 
   BIGGS . . . . . . . . . . his man 
   COAL MAN . . . . . . . . briefly 
   TELEGRAPH MESSENGER . . . briefly 
   NIKKI PORTER . . . . . . Ellery's secretary 
   INSPECTOR QUEEN . . . . . Ellery's father 
   SERGEANT VELIE . . . . . the Inspector's subordinate 
   ELLERY QUEEN . . . . . . . who solves a difficult case, perforce, on his back
   SHERLOCK HOLMES . . . . . present in spirit only.

Little Jim Phillimore, "The 20 Per Cent King," is a slippery cuss, as Inspector Queen knows well from experience, but it still comes as an unpleasant surprise when he and Sergeant Velie and just about the entire detective squad aren't able to nab Little Jim before he com-pletely vanishes from beyond mankind's ken in a disappearing act that could easily be a headliner in Vegas.

The Inspector, having to restrain himself from pulling out what little hair he has left in frustration, is forced to consult his bed-ridden brainiac son Ellery, who, between coughs, employs that brilliant logical reasoning he's noted for and comes up with . . . bupkis. It's impossible for Little Jim to have escaped from a house that is encompassed on all sides and under constant observation by a dozen detectives—unless (you knew there'd be an "unless," didn't you?) he hasn't escaped, at least not yet. Such an eventuality, however, would reflect badly on Sergeant Velie, who has thoroughly searched the place with his usual skill, even to the point of risking his wife's ire by getting coated in coal dust. As for Ellery's pretty secre-tary, Nikki, her theory is it was done with stilts.

In the end, of course, Ellery's reasoning abilities will pay dividends (of considerably more than 20 per cent) when he finally sees that the best place for someone to hide, despite what common sense might tell you, is right under your nose . . .
- Just recently we went on another radio adventure with EQ (HERE).
- If you'd like a more scholarly approach to Ellery Queen, there's an academic thesis (HERE, PDF) (WARNING: SPOILERS).

The bottom line: "The thought of you dictating a book while driving a car boggles the imagination."
Inspector Richard Queen

No comments:

Post a Comment