Classic Corner Review: The Dutch Shoe Mystery – Ellery Queen

Mass Market Paperback: 214 pages
Publisher: Signet; Special 50th Anniversary Edition edition (February 6, 1979)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0451085787
ISBN-13: 978-0451085788
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Ellery Queen – Author and Amateur Detective
Richard Queen – Police Inspector
Abigail Doorn – Heiress


An elderly woman is in the Dutch Memorial Hospital comatose, and about to undergo surgery. After she’s wheeled into the operating room, it’s discovered that she is dead. However, she was alive when in pre-surgery. When and how did someone manage to kill her between the pre-surgery room and the operating room. Ellery Queen and his Father are called upon to find out in The Dutch Shoe Mystery.


Another interesting mental puzzle from one of the greats of this genre. With Ellery Queen, the characters as usual are a little stock and one dimensional, but the puzzles themselves are what makes the books. I tend to like fair play mysteries such as this. You are given all the clues, and if you pay attention, by the time the story is over, you’ll be able to solve the mystery yourself. So far in about 3 or 4 of his books, I’ve yet to be able to solve the mystery before Mr. Queen himself reveals the murder.

For a fun weekend read, at just 239 pages, you can’t go wrong with this. A great book for those rainy afternoons. While it may not appeal to the more modern Thriller type mystery readers, for those who enjoy the pursuit of the puzzle, then you may definitely want to check out this or one of the other offerings in the Ellery Queen series.

Language is at a minimum, but due to the context of the book, I’d say it’s rated PG-13. Being a product of the earlier 20th century, readers may also have some difficulty with the English used, as well as some of the more non politically correct terminology often used. But if you can ignore that, I’m certain you’d find this book enjoyable.

About the Author

Ellery Queen was a pen name created and shared by two cousins, Frederic Dannay (1905–1982) and Manfred B. Lee (1905–1971), as well as the name of their most famous detective. Born in Brooklyn, they spent forty-two years writing, editing, and anthologizing under the name, gaining a reputation as the foremost American authors of the Golden Age “fair play” mystery. Although eventually famous on television and radio, Queen’s first appearance came in 1928, when the cousins won a mystery-writing contest with the book that would eventually be published as The Roman Hat Mystery.

Their character was an amateur detective who uses his spare time to assist his police inspector uncle in solving baffling crimes. Besides writing the Queen novels, Dannay and Lee cofounded Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, one of the most influential crime publications of all time. Although Dannay outlived his cousin by nine years, he retired Queen upon Lee’s death.


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