The Cranky Old Reader

I'm a Goodreads refugee, looking for a new home. Old books for children, science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, and humor are my main areas of interest. I've little interest in books that were written after 1975 or so, and prefer books that are older still. There are, however, a few still-living authors that I respect.

New Adventures of Ellery Queen

The New Adventures of Ellery Queen - Ellery Queen I'm an Ellery Queen fan from way back - specifically, of books by Ellery Queen that feature Ellery Queen as the detective.The older stories (say, pre-1940) have a particularly dated flavor. Ellery wears pince-nez, and the stories are filled with references to popular culture which anyone born after 1940 would be unlikely to know. There's a certain curious charm to those old stories, an exotic-yet-familiar quality. Many of Agatha Christie's books have a similar dated atmosphere.I've educated myself on the subject - I probably know more about American and English culture of the 1920-1940s than 99 out of 100 boomer or post-boomer Americans - but even so, I sometimes run into something jarring. As in The New Adventures of Ellery Queen, in which a winning prizefighter is greeted by his manager with a friendly "Heil, Hitler!". Mind you, these were Americans. And the remark was clearly NOT intended as anything sinister or even political - it was simply a hip, cool, funny thing way to great the new world champion boxer. How utterly bizarre! The story was first published in 1939, and must have been written before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. It's a fascinating snapshot of the attitudes of the times. I knew that there were a number of people in America and England that admired Hitler, but it's jarring to see a casual reference like that in American popular culture of the time.I should note that "Ellery Queen" (in fact the pen-name used by two cousins who co-wrote many of the stories) was NOT a Nazi sympathizer, of course. One of his most memorable and unusual novels, And on the Eighth Day, made that abundantly clear - although it must be noted that that novel was ghost-written by Avram Davidson.As for the stories in this particular collection, I have to say that they haven't aged well. They're not bad, and logically are pretty fair puzzles, but in at least a couple of stories there are points which simply violate common sense. Such as a murderer who obviously wouldn't have had a prayer in the world of escaping uncaught except for a completely unpredictable stroke of luck - which later enabled Ellery to catch him. Why would ANYONE plan a murder (and this murder was planned, not a matter of impulse) if he would obviously have been caught almost immediately?Not to mention another story (and please note that I'm being careful about spoilers) in which someone attempts to commit a murder, and ends up being killed by the instrument of murder themselves. It simply boggles the mind that having set up a deadly trap, the murderer failed to notice that s/he was about to be accidentally killed by it.All in all this isn't a bad book to read on a dull afternoon (or on a long train ride, in my case), but there are better works available under the Ellery Queen name.

Currently reading

Basic Roleplaying: The Chaosium d100 system (Basic Roleplaying)
Sam Johnson, Charlie Krank
A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster
Rebecca Solnit