Wednesday, March 27, 2024

"Fourth Suspect? What Fourth Suspect?"

ELLERY QUEEN (the editor) offers us this exemplar of deduction ("Just to prove," he says, "that Ellery Queen's 'dying message' technique is not always just 'fun and games'"), when we encounter a case of . . .

"Murder in the Park."
By Ellery Queen (1905-71 and 1905-82; Wikipedia HERE; Ellery Queen Rediscovery Website HERE; Michael Grost's Megasite HERE).
First appearance: This Week, July 9, 1950, as "The Mystery of the 3 Dawn Riders."
Reprinted in EQMM, March 1969 (today's text).
Short short short story (4 pages).
Online at The Luminist Archives (HERE; go to text page 141).

   "What's sugar mean in your dictionary, son?"

Usually the obvious solution is, well, obvious; but we should never overlook the lesson Father Brown taught us about ordinary people and "invisible" men . . .

Principal characters:
~ Shakes Cooney:
  ". . . bookie, tout, gambler, underworld slug, clubhouse creep, with the instincts of a jay and the ethics of a grave robber . . ."
~ Mounted Patrolman Wilkins:
  ". . . was there when it counted, and it was he who collared the three gentlemen who, curiously, were in the neighborhood of the deserted Tavern and Cooney's corpse at that ungentlemanly hour."
~ Senator Kregg:
  ". . . totalitarian . . ."
~ Piers d'I. Millard:
  ". . . ill-advised . . ."
~ The Hon. Stevens:
  ". . . a sucker play . . ."
~ Inspector Richard Queen:
  "'He must be one of your readers,' said the Inspector. 'Because, Ellery, that's a dying message or I'm the Senator's uncle'."
~ Ellery Queen:
  ". . . now I know whom Shakes Cooney meant!"

Reference and resource:
- "Only horse he knows how to ride is a dark one":
  "The concept [of the dark horse candidate] has been used in political contexts in such countries as Iran, Philippines, Russia, Egypt, Finland, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Politically, the concept came to the United States in the nineteenth century when it was first applied to James K. Polk, a relatively unknown Tennessee politician who won the Democratic Party's 1844 presidential nomination over a host of better-known candidates. Polk won the nomination on the ninth ballot at his party's national nominating convention and went on to become the country's eleventh president." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "the instincts of a jay":
  A possible libel against what might be considered justifiable conduct: "Jays are very territorial birds, and they will chase others from a feeder for an easier meal. Additionally, the blue jay may raid other birds' nests, stealing eggs, chicks, and nests. However, this may not be as common as is typically thought, as only 1% of food matter in one study was bird material." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- We recently communed with Ellery Queen (the detective) with respect to his first Puzzle Club story, "The Little Spy" (HERE).

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

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