The Greek Coffin Mystery – Ellery Queen (1932)

TheGreekCoffinMystery3At long last, I’ve made it…I think.  I’ve survived the brutal intrigue-barren plains of the first three Ellery Queen novels with a grim determination to make it to an oasis – The Greek Coffin Mystery.  With the promise of a nearly unanimously regarded top five Ellery Queen novel, I’ve maintained a steady yet bleary eye on the horizon as I trudged through hundreds of pages of mind-numbingly detailed suspect interviews and crime scene searches.  Now that I’ve arrived at the goal, would it be a GAD paradise or merely a mirage?

I started my journey reading Queen in publishing-order with burning excitement.  Here was one of the big name golden age authors – a true master of the craft – with a library of almost forty novels to look forward to.  I’ll never forget those first few chapters of The Roman Hat Mystery.  Mesmerized by crime scene maps, dramatis personæ, and a false forward, I waded into the chaos of those exciting first few chapters as the New York police struggled to contain a crime scene in a crowded theatre.  It took a while, but as I slowly realized that I was going to have to sit through the police interviewing every damn person in the theatre, I found my startled eyes contemplating just how many pages there were in the book.

There’s a blandness to these first few Queen novels that’s difficult to describe.  If you had me read any given chapter in isolation, I’d shrug my shoulders and say “I like the writing style enough, everything seems to be ok.”  But, you’ve got to understand –  after you slog through 300 pages of this (and yes, that’s how long these tend to run), it gets to be a bit much.  Interview after interview after interview.  Every crime scene search detailed down to the last fleck of paper.  And then, in the end, when you realize with horror that 99.9% of what you just persevered through wasn’t really relevant to the actual solution, man, that takes the wind out of your sails.  The Roman Hat Mystery was the equivalent of reading a 300 page account of someone searching for their glasses, only to be hit with the jaw dropping twist at the end that they were wearing them the entire time.

The Greek Coffin Mystery promised to be different though.  If you’ve read any review of the book, it’s no spoiler to say that it includes multiple solutions – four to be exact.  That immediately called out to me.  A false solution is special because you kind of get multiple book endings, and isn’t that the part of a mystery we all look forward to the most?  The detective struts the floor, reviews the facts of the case, and point by point exposes a line of reasoning that you never saw coming.  That’s what we live for.

In other words, it doesn’t matter how painstakingly detailed the investigation in The Greek Coffin Mystery might be.  If it features four solutions, then at least the investigation gets cut into sizable chunks.  Allot 20 pages for each false ending (and it being discredited), and we’re talking 80 pages of delight.

Well, The Greek Coffin Mystery is 359 pages in my Pocket Book edition.  That’s almost double the length of most GAD novels, but still, maybe it wouldn’t be that bad.  We’re talking 70 pages in between each solution, assuming they’re spread evenly throughout the book.  That I can tolerate.

Ok, so let’s get to the plot already.  Man, to tell you the truth, there is so much that unfolds across the 359 pages of this book that looking back at the origin of the whole mystery seems a bit misguided.  Georg Khalkis, a renowned art dealer, has died and a small party has gathered for his funeral.  His body is laid to rest in an underground crypt in a small graveyard behind his estate.  As the party returns to the house, his lawyer makes a startling discovery.  The will of the deceased has vanished, along with the strong box that contained it.  The will was known to be locked inside a safe five minutes before the burial, and a horde of press staked outside the house assures that no one could have snuck outside the premise with the will or strong box.

TheGreekCoffinMystery2Were this any of the first three Queen mysteries, we’d be treated to 75 pages of the funeral party being interviewed one by one and a detailed search of the grounds.  The authors have thankfully taken a different approach this time, and a brief sentence or two assures us that statements were taken from all occupants and a thorough search was made of the house and graveyard.  Instead, the investigation quickly narrows in on the seeming impossibility that the will/box can’t be located and couldn’t have possibly made its way out of the house undetected.

A bit of deduction on Ellery’s part leads to an interesting discovery, and we’re only 39 pages into the book!  Here’s where The Greek Coffin Mystery really starts to distinguish itself from the prior Queen novels.  Discoveries are made and new mysteries are revealed, which really helps with the sense of progress and keeping the story interesting.

I’m going to actually stop revealing specifics of the plot at this point, because the developments are what really help move the story along.  There are multiple murders and some major shifts in the focus of the story.  By the end of the book, the case of the missing will is almost a distant memory, as the reader is now more concerned with matters such as a secret rendezvous at a hotel room and the authenticity of a painting.

Despite all that happens, The Greek Coffin Mystery is a rather long book for it’s genre and the story does somewhat plod along in the same fashion as earlier titles.  There’s certainly much more to grab your attention, but there are also few moments that truly had me fully engaged.  I would be interested to see how my reading experience would have differed if this was my first encounter with Queen, as I think I brought in some mental baggage in terms of what I didn’t like in the previous books.

But how about those famed false solutions?  Did they serve to chop up the book and provide the satisfaction I dreamed of?  Well, they certainly do provide a break in the investigation, but I can’t quite say they were all I was hoping for.

The first solution comes a little over a third of the way through the book.  A young cocky Ellery (The Greek Coffin Mystery is actually set years before the first three books in the series), drops an absolute bomb of an accusation… followed by backing it up with a healthy serving of convoluted spaghetti logic.  The actual accusation features a promising and unforeseen twist, but the tower of logic that Ellery builds as justification lacks any solid support.  It’s no surprise when it all falls down.

But isn’t a false solution by nature supposed to have holes?  Well, yes, but it should also be as satisfying as a real solution until those holes are poked.  I’ll draw a comparison to the false solution presented midway through the John Rhode / Carter Dickson collaboration Fatal Descent.  That solution was so hilariously clever that I could have slapped the book shut for good and accepted it as the actual solution.

The first false solution of The Greek Coffin Mystery, on the other hand, suffers from the same weak logic present in the first three Queen books.  Take The French Powder Mystery as an example – the reveal of the killer was actually one of the more thrilling finale’s I’ve read in GAD fiction, but the logic used to pin the identity seemed to hang by a thread.  The killer could have simply said “uh, nope, not me”, and I don’t think the prosecution could have really done anything about it.  There’s a similar issue at the end of The Dutch Shoe Mystery.  While I liked the clever bit of misdirection that the killer used to commit the crime, the circumstantial evidence against them was thin at best.  Again, the killer could have simply said “uh, sorry, it must have been somebody else.”

Of course, the first false solution doesn’t serve to simply provide a break in the plot.  It’s a key moment in young Ellery Queen’s career where he realizes the danger of presenting a theory before he has all of the loose ends tied up.  It’s this moment that takes him from a cocky young man to a more mature investigator who only holds his theories back from his inspector father because he hasn’t finessed all of the angles yet.

Or so the authors say.  To tell you the truth, Ellery isn’t really that annoying before the false solution.  Yeah, he slings around his latin quotes and smiles smugly, but it’s nothing that really bothered me.  After the false solution, that’s another story.  Worked into a frenzy by the need to justify his mistake, Ellery makes some insane leaps in logic in order to preserve aspects of his false theory.  There’s about a 20 page passage after the nullification of the first solution where he launches into a dissection of where he went wrong, and I have to say that just about every fragment of logic that he stated struck me as “uh, what?”

From that point on, Ellery dismisses all of his father’s much more well reasoned attempts to take the investigation in a different direction and scoffs at the old man’s effort to follow up on clues that, you know, actually look like clues.  If anything Ellery became more unlikeable after his supposed turning point.

I won’t go further down the path of the remaining solutions so you can experience how they play out for yourself, but I’d say that solution number three should have gotten his father fired from the police force and Ellery banned from coming from within 200 yards of a police station.

TheGreekCoffinMysteryThe actual real end to the book is a mixed bag.  The identity of the killer was a definite surprise and is unveiled in a thrilling scene.  The authors also built the story up in such a skilled manner that once you know who the killer is, all of the loose ends tie themselves and the various mysteries encountered throughout the book immediately make sense without needing any explanation.  Oh, but you get an explanation, and it lasts near forty pages.  Ellery lays what is now obvious out in needless detail, but mixes it in with the logical conclusions that led him to the culprit.  This all sounds fine in theory, but the logical acrobatics employed by the authors just don’t jive with me.

When I first approached the Queen novels, the puzzle plots of the first period sounded like exactly what I was looking for.  After all, impossible crime novels like those by John Dickson Carr are puzzles, right?  Well, I assume the misinterpretation was on my part.  The Queenian puzzle is an exercise in pure long-winded logical equations.  Strap together thirty variations of “Person X must have done Y because of A, B, and C”, and you get a logic train that eventually leads down the tracks to the killer.  The problem is that:

1.  That isn’t much fun.

2.  When one of those inferences isn’t really that tight, it all kind of comes apart.

Anyway, this sort of logical stacking doesn’t seem to be for me.  I’ll be curious to see how I fare with authors like Freeman Wills Crofts, who has been described as writing timetable mysteries.

The Greek Coffin Mystery was definitely an improvement from the earlier Queen efforts in terms of the flow of the story and maintaining my interest.  It was overly long and somewhat unrelenting, but there was enough going on to keep me semi-engaged.  I still can’t say that I thought about the mystery while I wasn’t actively reading it, other than lamenting the notion that I could be spending the time with a book from another author.

So, was this the classic I was hoping for?  Clearly not, although I think I walked into the book with that possibility already in mind.  This is my favorite Queen so far, although that isn’t really saying much at this point.

The question now is where do I go from here?  It’s tempting to drop my original mission to approach Queen in order and to jump to a later phase in the career.  At the same time, I’ve got some 1940s-era Pocket Book editions of The Egyptian Cross Mystery, and I’m a sucker for a good cover…


Speaking of covers, I can’t resist leaving a few comments on the editions of The Greek Coffin Mystery that I’ve obtained while collecting Queen.

My 1942 Pocket Book edition with the men carrying the coffin on the cover was my goto read.  As with most books from this era, the paper is super thin due to war rationing and has an amazing smooth feel to it.  The cover of my copy is a little worse for wear, but the book was a delight to hold.

My 1960 Pocket Book edition with the woman caught in front of a safe was added to my library just as I was finishing the book.  I personally love the cover art, which is very much in the same vein as other 1960’s editions by Pocket Books, although this may be my favorite of the series.  My copy is notable for having a postcard-style insert for The Detective Book Club midway through, which none of my other 60’s-era PB editions have.

My 1969 Signet Mystery edition is part of a whole slate of Queen releases featuring a model with props on the cover.  I’m much more a fan of illustrations and this isn’t really my style.  It is interesting that they chose props alluding to the mystery of the painting, as that’s an aspect of the plot that tends to be skipped over in other reviews of the book that I’ve read.


Up above I talked about some of the issues that I have with the logic used in the early Queen books.  I’ll take some time to explain myself using an example from The Greek Coffin Mystery, but it’s going to requires spoilers.  I’m not going to give away the ending of the book, but I will be going into details that would spoil your experience if you haven’t read it yet.  For anyone commenting below, please be careful with your comments so as to not ruin anything for anyone else.

Spoilers

The first false solution involves Ellery jumping to the conclusion that Georg Khalkis wasn’t really blind.  That’s an extremely interesting plot twist and I was delighted when I read it.  But the entire bit about the teacups, Georg only having one visitor, and the bit about the ties didn’t really seem like that strong of a justification to leap to such conclusions.  Yes, we know someone did something with the teacups, and Ellery’s explanation seems like a clever theory, but it is by no means the only explanation.

Of course, it makes sense that Ellery’s logic would be weak, as his solution is to be proven wrong.  However, once it’s proven wrong, Ellery responds in a way that caught me off guard.  Rather than dispensing with the whole theory, he actually seizes tighter to it.  The theory was wrong, he explains, but only because the killer planted clever clues to lead him to those conclusion.

I love the idea of a clever adversary planting false clues and using the detective’s own logic against him. However, Ellery doesn’t ever seem to consider that maybe his original theories were just wrong.  Maybe the ties were just an accident as explained by the color blindness.  Maybe something did happen with the teacups, but it wasn’t a ploy by the killer to make Ellery jump through insane logic hoops to conclude that Georg Khalkis could see.

Of course, in the end Ellery is correct – or is he?  There’s certainly no one to refute Ellery’s final telling of the solution, but there’s nothing that really confirms that his theory of the falsely planted clues was correct.  All that we know is that he correctly identified the killer.  We really have no explanation of what happened with the teacups.  I think it’s fair to assume that the killer was the one who manipulated them, but to state with certainty that they were manipulated with the purpose of tricking Ellery into thinking that Khalkis wasn’t blind is a leap too far.

Anyway, that’s the one bit of the solution that I thought I’d pick on, but there were a number of claims that Ellery made where I was thinking “yeah, I don’t really know if that is air tight…”

End Spoilers

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34 thoughts on “The Greek Coffin Mystery – Ellery Queen (1932)”

  1. Well, at least you liked it better than some of the earlier ones! 🙂 Good review, m’friend.

    I will maintain, definitely, that mid-to-late Queen in far superior to early Queen, in spite of the puzzle-format of the nationality ones and the flaws with later Queen that Nick brought up. I’m particularly fond of Ten Days’ Wonder and Cat of Many Tails.

    Perhaps EQ’s great flaw is that they could never combine the novel of ratiocination and the novel of character, except very briefly in Period II—the short stories, the novella “The Lamp of God,” The Four of Hearts, Halfway House. Also a few in Period III (or early IV—not sure): “The Case Against Carroll” comes to mind. “Perhaps,” as I think Wonder and Cat are very effective re: both grounds, but I know others strenuously disagree. (The Finishing Stroke is curiously satisfying in every regard except solution.)

    As for The Greek Coffin Mystery, as you say, Ellery’s logic chain isn’t foolproof, but I think that (after the first few chapters, which are slow-going) it’s a fun book to read because of the twists and turns of the plot. Compare that, for example, to Nine Man’s Murder, which I reviewed a few months back: the characters are cardboard, the writing’s lousy, the plot’s weak, ad infinitum. The Greek Coffin Mystery does not have good writing or strong character, but it kept my interest, which has to be some quality distinct from, but not identical to, the plot.

    OK, as usual, I’ve taken 200 words to say what I could have said in 10!

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    1. Hey, it’s a long book and a long review, so you’re entitled to a long comment! The Four of Hearts and Halfway House are on my radar for the books I might choose if I decide to finally jump out of sequence. Halfway House seems to be a good bet, as I understand that it’s somewhat of a bridge between period 1 and 2.

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  2. Once again it seems your review has come out right when I am in the middle of reading it! I skipped over the spoiler section naturally but will look forward to reading your thoughts when I get to them.

    My biggest problem with EQ is the length. Everything seems designed to stretch each scene out beyond its natural limits and with very little sense of what the authors are hoping to achieve. For instance, there is a scene early on where a woman starts to give her evidence and she is immediately heckled by the Queens and other associated officers to get a move on and not waste their time – but the time spent heckling is far longer than any extraneous comment the woman may have made. Like you, I did appreciate some of the directness with the early interviews but everything gets dragged out – Ellery’s bright thought about the coffin could have been far, far pithier but instead we get Richard Queen telling Ellery that his officers have looked everywhere, the officers then listing all the places they have looked, Ellery then recapping that same list before finally throwing in the place they haven’t looked. Cue everyone then commenting on how they haven’t looked there. That should have been a really impactful moment but there is simply too much build up.

    At least I know from your review that I have a good surprise in store with the revelation of the killer! That should provide me with some much needed encouragement when this one starts to become hard going…

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    1. Well, I suspect that you’ll get to The Egyptian Cross Mystery before me. Having read two Queens in back to back months I really feel like I’ve missed out on other authors. As you say, these books are long. I feel like I could have tackled two books by an author like Christie in the same time I read one Queen – not just because of the length but also the enthusiasm. I look forward to a long marathon of catching up on other authors.

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      1. I understand that feeling all too well. I had actually vowed to take a break from EQ to see other authors but, as seems to often happen for me, I found myself making a late night call rather than spending the evening bookless.

        I am, against my expectations, enjoying this more than the last so far but I have yet to get to that third solution…

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  3. I’m going to let you bear this burden and suffer through each task, and stop getting defensive. If you never like anything by Queen . . . well, it is what it is! I don’t much like Egyptian Cross or American Gun, so if you end up agreeing with that or disagreeing and actually liking one or both of them, either way it’s not a loss. I love Siamese Twin, so I guess that’s the next one I’ll have to suck in my breath and be philosophical about when you hate it!

    But I do have two Queenian revelations to impart here, and one of them is prompted by your post! You discussed the covers, including the 1969 model one. These were the Queens that I bought, and I had been certain that I had read Greek Coffin soon after my first few Christies! But this shows I didn’t read it until I was 14-15!!

    The second revelation is that, although I believe the ending was spoiled for me, I realized that I have never read the Drury Lane novel The Tragedy of Z, but I found a lovely copy of it at a local bookstore. So if you ever want to do a double post on a book together and figure you will read this one, we can do it together!! 🙂

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    1. I have two editions of The Tragedy of Z with very nice covers, so we’ll see. First I’ll have to read The Tragedy of Y, and unfortunately I’ve seen some comparisons to another book that might clue me into the solution. Anyway, I do suspect I’ll be returning to Barnaby Ross between my next Queen.

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  4. Yeah, I think this is a very fair analysis of this book — it’s interesting and hugely inventive, but if you struggle to get on board with their way of doing things then you’re going to be swimming especially hard upstream here (the first paragraph of your spoiler section is particularly on point, that has always bothered me!).

    Egyptian Cross is hard yards, in my opinion, and unlikely to delight if this one didn’t. There’s a wonderful section about 2/3 in, but the rest is an arduous task of not-exactly-thrilling proportions.

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  5. “The Queenian puzzle is an exercise in pure long-winded logical equations. Strap together thirty variations of “Person X must have done Y because of A, B, and C”, and you get a logic train that eventually leads down the tracks to the killer. The problem is that:

    1. That isn’t much fun.

    2. When one of those inferences isn’t really that tight, it all kind of comes apart.”

    1. Yes it is. 😦

    2. Agreed. This is EQs main flaw. They’re logic is seldom so airtight that you actually believe that the solution proposed is the one and only solution. I will comment on the EQ short stories later on my own blog, but there are some instances which are particularly horrendous to me.

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    1. 1. Well, not always…

      2. This was my exact problem with The Chinese Orange Mystery — the killer could go “Nope, your point X could be explained by Y” very easily and the whole thing would come crumbling down. In fact, that’s what I thought (perhaps hoped) would happen and then it didin’t and everyone was fine because the killer admitted it…and , secretly, the real killer smirked to themself and walked out of the room free to pursue their rein of terror…

      Sorry, got carried away there for a moment.

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      1. Point number one is actually an item I’d be curious to dig into a bit more. All GAD novels that I can think of rely on some form of logical deduction, and it is typically some chain of logic rather than just one simple conclusion. The detective gathers everyone together (as we discussed on JJ’s site the other day) and gives a grand sweeping lecture of how the entire crime went down. As part of that, we’re treated to the various strings of logic that allowed the detective to clue in on the killer.

        So, how is it different when Poirot or Dr Fell do it than when Ellery Queen does it? I want to say that with Queen, the logic is the explanation, whereas with Poirot or Fell, the logic serves to connect the explanation. The distinction is that Queen builds a trembling tower of logical equations and presents that as the solution. Christie or Carr (and most other authors I’ve read) on the other hand tell you a story and use the logic to point to how they were able to make strides forward.

        I don’t know, I don’t quite feel that I’m capturing it right, and I’m guessing this ties into a topic that others have discussed much more extensively. Perhaps this comes down to the change in GAD literature around the time of the early 1930s – a topic that I can’t speak to as I haven’t read much 1920’s work.

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      2. I’d say that inference definitely plays a part. In any chain of logical deduction there’s a key difference between “Oh, why didn’t I think of that?!” and “Oh, how the hell was I supposed to think of that?!”. I’d venture to suggest that Poirot and Fell do the former, Queen the latter.

        Whaddaya say?

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      3. Do not tempt me…I’m on the lookout for a February theme, and four essays on Logic in GAD would be right in my wheelhouse…

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      4. Well, maybe logic isn’t fun, but it’s always beautiful. And beautiful trumps fun. So there.

        (This only applies to true logic. What sometimes passes for logic in EQ – or other authors’ works – isn’t necessarily covered by that statement.)

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  6. An excellent review. I disagree with you mostly only in the reasons and extent to which I find Queen obnoxious. I suspect the assumption highlighted in your Spoiler section can be explained by his gigantic and blinding ego. Or, alternatively, the Fourth Wall breaking knowledge (he is the ‘author’ after all) that it is, in fact, all about him.

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    1. If you find Ellery to be obnoxious, you should crack open a Barnaby Ross novel and get a taste of Drury Lane. In case you’re not familiar with those titles, they’re a parallel set of books that the Queen authors put out from 1932-33 under a different name.

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  7. I remember that I had something of a tepid reaction to this book when I first read it, but that may have been partly down to the timing and the circumstances at the time – I couldn’t get properly into it or in the right frame of mind at least. I came back to it again about two or three years ago and felt a lot better about it – there are a few times when you could pick at the logic but I can’t say that bothered me too much and certainly had no discernible effect on my overall appreciation of the book. In short, it’s good, it’s complex and it’s nicely layered.

    And the more I think about it, the more I realize that not only do I not mind the frequently criticized nature of early Ellery Queen (:D) but I actually quite like him, and indeed Philo Vance who he was clearly aping. Yes, there’s a certain pomposity and intellectual smugness at work but I think that smartness, and the consequent inference that the reader is smart enough too to come along for the ride, is actually kind of attractive now that we’ve drifted into an era where ignorance and intolerance are positively celebrated and worn as badges of pride, from our leaders on down.

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  8. Glad you finally made it to this one! If you want to skip ahead to Period Two, Halfway House and The Four of Hearts are definitely the pick of the litter, although HH is basically a Period One novel that doesn’t have the usual title pattern. So if you want a significantly different reading experience from the first four books, go with TFOH.

    (I won’t name the murderer, but people who haven’t read The Greek Coffin Mystery might want to skip the rest of this comment)

    One way TGCM gets a little oversold by its admirers is the “three false solutions before the true one!” aspect. Solution One, in spite of the flaws you mention, is pretty darn ingenious. (It would have fit better if the authors had said that Ellery had already solved several tough cases and had a reputation as a super-detective, so it would make more sense that the murderer left all those subtle false clues for him to find.) Solution Two is another matter – it isn’t one of Ellery’s, it’s the murderer’s attempt to frame an innocent person and close the case, and Ellery never believes in that person’s guilt, even though he can’t disprove it at first. So it’s not going to dazzle a reader; it’s not meant to. Solution Three? Well, remember that while Ellery cooks it up, it’s a deliberate fake designed to lull the murderer into a false sense of security – and Inspector Queen loudly lets Ellery know it’s inadequate.

    One thing I could never swallow: that at this very early point in Ellery’s career, Sergeant Velie would do anything related to an investigation behind Inspector Queen’s back just because Ellery wanted him to. Maybe after twenty years of one brilliant solution after another. Maybe.

    Okay, REALLY better skip this next paragraph if you haven’t read it yet!

    I won’t pretend I solved this one before getting to the last chapter, but the way the list of characters at the beginning was set out made me wonder if the person who turned out to be the culprit might in fact be the one…

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    1. Your last point is exactly why I don’t read character lists until after I’ve finished a novel nowadays — have spotted too many killers by the things mentioned there or their placement in the hierarchy.

      I figure I’m better off “meeting” them in context anyway, so — love it though I do as a part of GAD — I’ll always skip such lists at the beginning of a book.

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      1. What’s strange is that most of those character lists were created by editorial assistants… but the one in TGCM seems to have been done by the Queen team themselves. So I have to figure they knew what they were doing.

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  9. I didn’t quite read the review carefully as I’ve yet to read the novel – saving this for the last, unless you think ‘Siamese Twin Mystery’ trumps this one? Thanks for the review – looks like ‘Greek Coffin Mystery’ might not be quite as good as I’d hoped it would be. 😦

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    1. I’d be surprised if The Greek Coffin Mystery was the best of Queen. If that’s the case, I might as well give up. It isn’t a bad book, but I’d say that I’ve enjoyed pretty much everything by any other GAD author more. I’m hoping that I find luck with a later era Queen by jumping ahead. The Siamese Twin Mystery is definitely on my radar as a landing spot.

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      1. I liked ‘There Was an Old Woman’ and ‘Face to Face’ – but the latter, especially, was a better story than it was a puzzle. Then again, I might not be a good gauge since I quite liked the early Queen titles too. >_<

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      2. Hmm. Queen’s output is so varied that the question “what is the best of Queen?” depends on the question “best at what?”

        Best at intricate plotting: The Greek Coffin Mystery, hands down. Close runner-up: The Siamese Twin Mystery
        Best at combining an intricate plot with a cast of memorable characters: Calamity Town. Close runner-up: Face to Face
        Best fun romp: The Four of Hearts. Close runner-up: There Was an Old Woman
        Best novel: Cat of Many Tails. Close runner-up: The Glass Village

        So don’t lose heart! There is a lot of good stuff to come!

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  10. I’ve more or less given up on Erle Stanley Gardner after the latest debacle: TEN DAYS WONDER which was screechingly, mind-numbing horrible. So the chances are I won’t be reading THE GREEK COFFIN MYSTER, though one never knows. But I still enjoyed your take on the book, I wish I were as patient as you are. I am also tired of multiple endings – one or two is enough for me. More than that smacks of showing off. 🙂

    I hope you enjoy reading Freeman Wills Croft, though his early books can be creaky. THE HOG’S BACK MYSTERY is prime Croft. But I’m having a hard time finding his railroad mysteries.

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