『シェンムー 一章 横須賀編』
And let's slip something English in for a change! And a double review, something I haven't done in a long time! Well, technically, I have short shorts, but I haven't written one of those in a long time either, and those faux double reviews of There Was An Old Woman/Double Double and The Dragon's Teeth/The Scarlet Letters don't really count. The last proper double review of a book was in September 2012 by the way, of two novels by Abiko Takemaru; of two games in January 2013. Can you believe that when I first started writing this blog, I always did double (or even triple) reviews in one post?
The title Inspector Queen's Own Case kinda explains itself, I think. Son Ellery has solved many cases that baffled his father, but this time it's Richard Queen's time for some action. And he needs it badly, because his forced retirement is driving him crazy. Old Queen was once one of the most fearsome police inspectors of New York City, but now spends his days doing very little. He spends some time at his friends' beach house near the Conneticut shore, near Nair Island, a private haven for the rich. The Humffreys are one of the multimillionaire inhabitants of Nair Island, and having recently been blessed by a baby, hire nurse Jessie Sherwood to take care of their child. One night, the most horrible thing possible happens to the baby, but his death is thought to be an accident. Jessie is the only one who is convinced it as a murder though, and together with old Queen (who has also taken a romantic interest in Jessie), try to figure out what happened that fatal night in the Humffrey mansion.
After many, many, maaaaany stories were we saw Ellery explaining how elementary everything was to his father, old man Queen finally has a chance to show why he made it to police inspector. In a somewhat clumsy way. Inspector Queen's Own Case definitely has some elements we know from the other Ellery Queen novels, but is not nearly as complex as anything we've seen in past releases. It is not a bad read though, as we see the old man cope with his own age and the blossoming of a new love. I am not a real fan of the love subplots in the Queen novels, but this was the most tolerable one of all Queen novels I've read until now.
The murder is quite shocking, in my opinion and that's something considering we've seen decapitated bodies and bodies exhibited in department stores. The Murder on the Orient Express effect, if you like. But the truth behind the case is revealed quite early on in the novel (or to be more precise: old man Queen guesses, and suddenly it becomes true despite it was never proven logically to be true...) and it has a tendency to drag a bit despite the short length of the novel. I understand that old man Queen works in a different way than Ellery, and as a police inspector, he might work a bit more singlemindedly (because all policemen are like that in detective fiction featuring amateur detectives), but I did find Richard a bit... simple in this novel. But then again, the plot of Inspector Queen's Own Case is a bit simple. The solution does mirror some elements we already saw in Cat of Many Tails, but doesn't pull it off as well as Cat.
Nair Island, an island for millionaires, reminds of The Spanish Cape Mystery and that island from The Treasure Hunt in The New Adventures of Ellery Queen. And wasn't there an island in The Eygptian Cross Mystery too? But then again, the island, as a geographical location, is never of real importance: movements of the persons on it and the location of buildings are not crucial to the understanding of the crime.
I was not really impressed or anything by Inspector Queen's Own Case, but considering it was a short read and I did like seeing old man Queen on his own for a change, I don't consider it a bad Queen. I wouldn't put it high on the priority list, which is actually precisely the case with me: I just don't have that many unread Queens left.
Ghost-written by Avram Davidson, The House of Brass feels more like a classic Queen novel. It's once again mostly old man Queen's show (together with his wife, which explains the detecting couples tag I used), but with a double-twist ending, some appearances by filius Ellery and a plot about a big search for something, it is hard to deny this book seems more like an Ellery Queen novel. Especially the big search, in this case for Hendrik's fortune, is undeniably a classic Queen trope. It was also featured in Inspector Queen's Own Case actually, but as a lesser plot-device and the story never went deep into that until the last minute. Here it is a major part of the story, and it reminds of scenes like the search for a victim's hat in The Roman Hat Mystery, or the search for the will in The Greek Coffin Mystery.
In Inspector Queen's Own Case, Richard called his own Baker Street Irregulars (of similarly retired policemen) to help in the Hummfrey case: they return in The House of Brass. Both books have a slight (just sliiight) getting-the-gang-back-together feeling to them, but I stress the 'slight', because we actually hardly know this gang. Sure, I understand that people like Velie are probably still in the force, but old man Queen calling his old gang without calling old faces the reader actually knows, was a bit disappointing.
The double twist and the identity of the murderer are also quite easy to predict if one has been keeping up with his Queen reading: in the Queen universe, some people just have more chance of turning out to be cold-blooded murderer than others. The double (or triple, or quadruple etcetera) solution has been a Queen staple ever since The Greek Coffin Mystery, so you usually expect one (or more) if you read one of these novels. Surprising, these tropes are not, but it does help in creating that Queen feel.
Inspector Queen's Own Case and The House of Brass might not be Ellery Queen on his best, but having read so many Queen novels with the old man, I have to admit it was quite refreshing to see inspector Queen on his own for a change. The House of Brass feels more like a part of the series due to its usage of familar tropes, but Inspector Queen's Own Case might be more interesting because it presents a different kind of Queen than we're used to. As a set, they form a fun little mini-series.