Friday, 28 September 2012

The Scarlet Letters by Ellery Queen

It is ordered that Miss Batcheller for her adultery shall be branded with the Letter A.
- Unknown, Records of Maine Province (1651)

It was around this law that Nathaniel Hawthorne wove the story of The Scarlet Letter

No, I am not going to write about Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. This is about The Scarlet Letters by Ellery Queen published in 1953.

Dirk and Martha Lawrence are considered one of the happiest couples in New York. Of late, there seems a shadow over their happiness. There are times when Dirk lost his temper in public over no reason and Martha looked like a "dull pigeon". Martha is Nikki 's friend and Nikki, Ellery's Girl Friday. Did I say written by Ellery Queen featuring Ellery Queen the Mystery writer and amateur detective?

Dirk is also a Crime Fiction writer only of the darker sort. With his failing career, Dirk's moods become darker. He is convinced that Martha is having an affair. Martha is a nice girl, not the kind of girl you would expect to do something like that. Martha approaches Ellery to help her in anyway possible.

A good secretary can save a writer's career! I am not saying this, Ellery is! Ellery decides to lend Nikki not only to save his writing career but keep him sane and save Martha. Nikki notes that Martha is indeed seeing somebody. She gets Letters written in Scarlet with the day, time and .....a letter of the alphabet every week. ( like our crime fiction alphabet)

Thursday, 4 P.M., A

Will Ellery find out what code they are using? What is Martha doing? Why not divorce Dirk? Knowing Dirk, how can she meet somebody on the sly, hoping to get away with it. How long will Ellery and Nikki play the guardians? Can they make Martha see reason before Dirk becomes murderous?

This is the second Ellery Queen book I am reading. The first one I read was The Tragedy of Z, a Drury Lane mystery, it was disappointing except for the final denouement. This book had me glued to the screen(ereader), despite the murder not taking place until the end. I was wondering what was Martha up to? More than that, how long can  somebody interfere in other's lives? What are Nikki and Ellery up to? There was a sense of something going to happen. You kind of know what is going to happen. There is an interesting mystery at the end that Ellery solves. I can't say much without spoiling it to you. Some of it is probably a bit far fetched nevertheless an enjoyable mystery.

I borrowed the book from Open library.

My post for Crime Fiction Alphabet S and Colour coded challenge.




1 comment:

Peter Reynard said...

Valli, thanks for a great review. I have never read an Ellery Queen book and I'm not sure why. I'll have to pick one up soon.