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Publisher's Summary

French's department store was famous for the rare merchandise it offered its elite clientele. But no one there could be proud of its latest exclusive window display: the bloodstained corpse of the owner's wife. Ellery Queen and his father, Inspector Richard Queen, soon discover that this palace of commerce is a viper's nest of fear, jealousy, suspicion, and hatred, where love is cheap and the price of honor marked down. But worst of all is the mysterious mocking mastermind who is out to turn the glittering store into a bargain basement of murder.

©2013 Ellery Queen (P)2013 AudioGO

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Mystery from the era of the classics

Although Richard Queen is actually the police inspector, it is his erudite, book-loving son Ellery who is the real sleuth in these stories. They are almost a century old, but have not lost any of the punch they must have had back in the 1920's.

In this book, a woman is murdered and discovered in a shocking place. Her husband is in his office having a business meeting at the time of the discovery--and immediately the detection begins. Everyone in the business faction, as well as family, become suspects (sooner or later).

The hallmark feature of the Ellery Queen works is that they are like cerebral murder puzzles. Ellery Queen professes to be interested in "ivory tower" kinds of ideas, peppers his conversation with latin and french comments, and would appear to be the least likely person to take an interest in something as far removed from that mindset as a police investigation. But since his father is working on solving cases, he brings his powers of deduction to the scene and proceeds to unravel what took place.

The beauty of this series is that the clues are always there for the alert reader to put together, just as EQ does. The difficulty with (at least this particular book) was (to me) that it dragged on a bit unnecessarily long. I was growing a bit weary of it by the end. However, I was not able (despite all the clues being right there) to figure out the murderer, almost until this person was revealed by Ellery, in an Agatha Christie style ending where everybody is brought together and the murderer revealed.

It is a fun read--with only the caveat that it seemed a bit excessively long. Recommend--great fun if you like the early mysteries from that era. Ellery Queen is like the American version of Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ralph
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 07-11-16

Great Book

Great book. Read it non stop. Time to start another e q novel. Thank you

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Nostalgia

Would you listen to The French Powder Mystery again? Why?

I first read these books 60+ years ago so this has been an indulgence in nostalgia.<br/>While much seems dated, after ninety years the basic plot is still timely. So much<br/>for the war on drugs.

What does Robert Fass bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I was concerned about listening to the book and were it available would have preferred<br/>to read it again. The narrator does a good reading but sounds too old for Ellery.