『籟・来・也』 (Garnet Crow)
Spring brings a spring lifestyle
Summer brings a blowing summer wind
Autumn brings autumn fruits
Winter brings a winter's harsness
"Rai Rai Ya" (Garnet Crow)
And this time a Chinese post-title. Just to keep everybody on their toes.
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned Mitani Kouki's (writer of Furuhata Ninzaburou) movie Rajio no Jikan ("Radio Time"; also known as "Welcome Back Mr. McDonald") here multiple times. But it's such an awesome movie that I'll always keep refering to it. The movie is a comedy about a radio play that is broadcast live on air, but stuff happens. It starts rather innocently with one actor asking for a name change for her character, but things explode from there. It's really a wonderful movie about the world of radio-plays and a must-see.
The Inner Circle (January) and The Gettysburg Bugle (May) are both about that not-so-brilliant investment scheme, the tontine. Queen also used the tontine motive in other stories, for example The Last Man Club, but the catch in The Inner Circle is that it's pretty clear that someone in the tontine scheme is killing the others, it's not clear who the members are (random information: the first time I heard of a tontine, was not in a detective, but in a Simpsons episode). The solution is kinda hard to get for non-Americans though. The Gettysburg Bugle is a more classic approach to the tontine. The three surviving soldiers that fought in the Civil War died on the same day of the last three years and it appears that these men had a tontine running. A rather straight-forward story that is a bit on the easy side.
The President's Half Disme (February) and The Dead Cat (October) both remind me strongly of other Queen short stories. In The President's Half Disme, Ellery solves a historical mystery surrounding George Washington. Abraham Lincoln's Clue (Q.E.D. Queen's Experiments in Deduction) kinda replicates the setting / idea of this story, both being a historical mystery featuring an US president. In The Dead Cat, a Hallowe'en party ends in murder, which was commited in total darkness, not unlike that The New Adventures of Ellery Queen story, The House of Darkness. Aoyama Goushou also made a variation on this story, which I prefer actually.
The Ides of Michael Magoon (March) and The Dauphin's Doll (December) are both robbery stories. The Ides of Michael Magoon is about the robbery of a private detective's tax income forms and makes up for a pretty interesting story. The Dauphin's Doll is a rather surprising story. Inspector Queen (and Ellery) are asked to protect the Dauphin's Doll, a doll with a diamond embedded in it that is to be shown at a department store the whole day. The problem: professional thief Comus has announced he's going to steal the doll. Yes, it's Ellery vs. a phantom thief like Lupin. And it's awesome. As the Lupin stories are usually written from Lupin's perspective, it is probably best to compare The Dauphin's Doll to the Conan vs. Kaitou KID heist stories in Meitantei Conan. I wish there were more Comus stories!
The Emperor's Dice (April) and The Three R's (September) are pretty much the same stories, with the same solution and similiar clues. They are both entertaining stories on their own, with Ellery investigating a murder case (?) among some friends of Inspector Queen in The Emperor's Dice, while The Three R's is about the disppearance of a teacher at an university. But having the (basically) the same story twice in one collection is a bit disappointing.
The Medical Finger (June) and The Fallen Angel (July) are both stories that didn't really interest me, but they are also both stories wherein Ellery is initially asked to prevent murder (and fails). The Medical Finger has a fairly disappointing solution for a poisoning problem (we've seen better from Queen). Structurally, The Fallen Angel does resemble an Ellery Queen with a whole heap of elements (focus on the order of events, disappearing people and items), but for some reason doesn't really appeal to me.
The Needle's Eye (August) and The Telltale Bottle (November) are alike because both stories start out rather vague and with murders happening rather late. In The Needle's Eye, Ellery is invited to an island. His real goal is to protect a girl from possible attempts on her life by her husband and father-in-law, but his cover is a treasure hunt on the island. And in fact: much of the story is devoted to this treasure hunt, which makes a murder late in the story feel somewhat unnecessary. Which is actually rather like The Treasure Hunt (The New Adventures of Ellery Queen). The same with The Telltale Bottle, where Ellery and Nikki (accidently) discover a drug-trafficking ring, which also rather arbitrary ends in murder. It's a rather fast-paced adventure story, which really shows it's radio-play origins.
All in all an entertaining short story collection. Queen's radio plays are usually a lot of fun and indeed, most stories are quite amusing. Nikki Porter is a pretty entertaining addition to the Queen novels too (better than that society columnnist love interest from The Four of Hearts whose name I've forgotten). I do feel that The Adventure of the Murdered Moths and other radio mysteries had a better selection of stories.
And this was the last of the Queen short stories, I guess? (Except for Wedding Anniversary in The Best of Ellery Queen, but I don't really want to buy a collection for just one new story).