Saturday, October 28, 2023

"It Was a Baffling Crime . . . In Fact, an Apparently Impossible One"

"The Strangled Bride."
By Ellery Queen (1905-71 and 1905-82).
Illustrated by Louis Glanzman (1922-2013; Wikipedia HERE).
First appearance: The American Weekly, June 6, 1954.
Collected in Ellery Queen's International Case Book (1964; Ellery Queen megasite HERE) and retitled as "The Strangled Bride of Oran."
Short short short story (2 pages).
Online at starting (HERE) and finishing (HERE).

   "To protect persons involved, Mr. Queen has concealed key identities under fictitious names."

If you recall Holmes's most famous axiom then you should be able to get there even before M. Ficel . . .

Principal characters:
~ Clara Edgerton, the victim:
  ". . . had been sweet and gentle, a perfect lady, untouched by scandal or intrigue, unadventurous, without an enemy."
~ Louis Duperie:
  "Because of his wounds, the young veteran settled in Algeria after the war, opening a modest souvenir shop for tourists in the Oran hotel where Clara Edgerton was employed."
~ The prefect of police:
  "The most unusual crime we of the Oran police have ever investigated?"
~ Ficel of the Surete:
  "But this case is of the utmost simplicity."

References and resources:
- "the Oran police":
  The site of a major military operation in World War II: "Oran (Arabic: وَهران, romanized: Wahrān) is a major coastal city located in the northwest of Algeria. It is considered the second most important city of Algeria, after the capital, Algiers, because of its population and commercial, industrial and cultural importance. It is 432 km (268 mi) west-southwest from Algiers. The total population of the city was 803,329 in 2008, while the metropolitan area has a population of approximately 1,500,000, making it the second-largest city in Algeria." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "a dark picture of Berber savagery or some burnoosed Arab's treachery":
  Berbers are the very definition of cultural diversity: "Berbers (Arabic: بربر) or the Berber peoples, also called by their contemporary self-name Amazigh (/æməˈzɪɡ/) or Imazighen (Berber languages: ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ, romanized: Imaziɣen; singular: Amaziɣ, ⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖ ⵎⵣⵗ; Arabic: أمازيغ), are a diverse grouping of distinct ethnic groups indigenous to North Africa who predate the arrival of Arabs in the Arab migrations to the Maghreb.Their main connections are identified by their usage of Berber languages, most of them mutually unintelligible, which are part of the Afroasiatic language family. They are indigenous to the Maghreb region of North Africa, where they live in scattered communities across parts of Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and to a lesser extent Tunisia, Mauritania, northern Mali and northern Niger." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "a Lyonnais of honest bourgeois stock who had served bravely at Verdun and the Somme":
  "Lyonnais now often simply refers to the area around the city of Lyon." (Wikipedia HERE).
  "Verdun": "The Battle of Verdun (French: Bataille de Verdun; German: Schlacht um Verdun) was fought from 21 February to 18 December 1916 on the Western Front in France. The battle was the longest of the First World War and took place on the hills north of Verdun-sur-Meuse." (Wikipedia HERE.)
  "the Somme": "The Battle of the Somme (French: Bataille de la Somme; German: Schlacht an der Somme), also known as the Somme offensive, was a battle of the First World War fought by the armies of the British Empire and the French Third Republic against the German Empire. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the upper reaches of the river Somme in France. The battle was intended to hasten a victory for the Allies. More than three million men fought in the battle, of whom one million were either wounded or killed, making it one of the deadliest battles in all of human history." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "no genie had materialized from a bottle":
  Superstitions die hard—and some never do: "Jinn (Arabic: جِنّ‎, jinn) – also romanized as djinn or anglicized as genies – are invisible creatures in early religion in pre-Islamic Arabia and later in Islamic culture and beliefs. Like humans, they are accountable for their deeds and can be either believers (Muslims) or unbelievers (kafir), depending on whether they accept God's guidance." (Wikipedia HERE.)
  Genies have been showing up in popular culture for a very long time: "Genies or djinns are supernatural creatures from pre-Islamic and Islamic mythology. They are associated with shapeshifting, possession and madness. In later Western popular representation, they became associated with wish-granting and often live in magic lamps or bottles." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "the Surete":
  A brief compare-and-contrast post about the British vs. the French approaches to crime solving is (HERE).
- "You can see Hugh Marlowe as Ellery Queen on television":
  "In 1954, Norvin Productions produced the syndicated series Ellery Queen, Detective with Hugh Marlowe as the title character. Episodes from this series were broadcast on many local American networks and in United Kingdom between 1954 and 1959 under various titles like Mystery is My Business, Crime Detective and New Adventures of Ellery Queen."
(Wikipedia HERE.)
- Our last encounter with EQ before we fell ill concerned his story "The Two-Headed Dog" (HERE).

Unless otherwise noted, all bibliographical data are derived from The FictionMags Index created by William G. Contento & edited by Phil Stephensen-Payne.


  1. Did someone say... an impossible crime? Well, I read this short-short and the locked room mystery definitely wasn't one of Ellery Queen's strong suits.

    1. You're so right. His (their) strengths lay elsewhere.