Tuesday, January 4, 2022

"Cries, Moans, Mutters, Whimpers, Slithery Noises, Patters, Scrapings"

WE'VE NOTED THAT we like to focus on first appearances when we can find them. The supersleuth in today's story is the legendary Ellery Queen, as he tries to unravel the dilemma of . . .

"The Two-Headed Dog."
By Ellery Queen (1905-82; 1905-71).
First appearance: Mystery, June 1934.
Collected in The Adventures of Ellery Queen (1934).
Short story (12 pages; 3 illos).
Online at Archive.org beginning (HERE) and finishing (HERE).
     "A black muzzle poked out of a hole in the curtain and I saw two savage eyes."

Ordinarily two heads are better than one, but in Captain Hosey's motel on this blustery night two heads can only signify death . . . .

Principal characters:
~ Captain Hosey:
  "Ellery Queen, hey? Well, well. I've heard tell of ye, young man."
~ Captain Rye:
  "So ye're the great d'tective. Can't say I ever heard o' ye."
~ Jenny:
  "Curiosity killed a cat, and it almost got me a very badly bitten hand."
~ Barker:
  "'Mechanics' and building tools, Mr. Queen, cement, quicklime, household wares, et cetera and so forth."
~ Heiman:
  "God, what a night that was! Makes my skin creep to think of it."
~ Isaac:
  "Wall, Cap'n Hosey's got an ol' shooter some'eres."
~ John Morse:
  "This man comes in shakin' off th' wet; he was rigged out in a cross 'tween a sou'wester an' a rubber tire . . ."
~ Benson:
  "You were dead right, Mr. Queen!"
~ Ellery Queen:
  "It all fitted nicely, once I had deduced the identity of the murderer. It had to be."

References and resources:
- "the Dusenberg"(spelling): Desirable but not cheap:
  "The Duesenberg is only used by Ellery whenever he was not residing in N.Y. It's a 1924 open two seater with a 'Dickey seat' in the back and a counter which shows 215000 km (Finishing Stroke). The Duesenberg was a symbol of wealth and the luxury dream car of Americans. It is only as second hand car Ellery could afford this vehicle" (Ellery Queen: A Website on Deduction HERE; also see Wikipedia HERE and Bing Images HERE).
- "a Chinese lazaret": Being a sailor man, Captain Hosey probably means this:
  "A storage space below deck or between decks on a ship or boat" (The Free Dictionary HERE).
- Ellery Queen Reader (HERE) says "The Two-Headed Dog" "stands up fairly well, one of the best Ellery Queen stories up to this point." Michael Grost (HERE) agrees: "This story is quite entertaining, with good New England atmosphere, and its solution is clever. EQ includes more than one mysterious surprise in the solution - like several of his best short works, it involves multiple mysteries."
- There's an audio podcast version of "The Two-Headed Dog" (HERE) and also (HERE) (1 hour and 1 minute).
- Another EQ first appearance was "The Hollow Dragon," which we featured (HERE).

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