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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

What listeners say about The French Powder Mystery

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

15 people found this helpful

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Racist product of its time

This series has not aged well. This book contains many negative racial stereotypes; in fact, it uses them for "humor." Avoid this series.

4 people found this helpful

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No Sex, No Foul Language, Just Mystery

There are distinct advantages to listening to vintage mysteries. Beyond the three listed above, there’s also a refreshing lack of disorienting cinematic cuts in time and scene, tortured, transgressive anti-heroes, and creeping moral relativism.

Admittedly, there are drawbacks. Awkward questions arise (“If there was that much blood, then how did…?”) But for those of us who enjoy both gritty realism and, as here, the murder mystery as mental parlor game, there’s nothing much at which to cavil.

The quintessence of “police procedural” detective fiction, in novel form—unlike the brisker short stories—Ellery Queen tends to drag somewhat. But even at nearly 11 hours, this thoroughly satisfying puzzle held my interest throughout. And Robert Fass’ performance just made it that much more engaging.

3 people found this helpful

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Love it!

These mysteries are wonderfully woven and include a wonderful use of language and dry humor. I'm hooked! Also, the narrator is a natural in using different tones/accents for each character.

3 people found this helpful

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Be aware

Be aware that you're listening to a book written ~80-90 years ago. No technology, misogyny the norm, racism the norm. Did not finish as was just too irritating. O.K. if you are able to look past the cultural differences.

3 people found this helpful

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Great Book

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

3 people found this helpful

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Okay for a freebie

Yep, it’s old fashioned, and some things will come across as offensive. The beginning was a bit tedious and uninteresting in its set up. The middle unfolding of the mystery became more interesting, although less so for me once they introduced the “big” reason. Much of the long wrap up was redundant, so I sped it up substantially to get to the end and find out the culprit (who was unsatisfying). I might grab another one though, because I listen to so many that even average three-star books make good enough background company while doing other things.

1 person found this helpful

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Archaic Delight!

This story was set 100 years ago in 1921 New York City. It was very interesting to hear about life in those times. The only thing that made me cringe was the portrayal of the only black character in the story. He was described as someone the Queens had “adopted” and he functioned in their household as an all -around man servant. If I remember correctly he was described as being small, though whether he was a child or adult wasn’t clear.

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  • ED
  • 03-31-21

OK for a freebie.

Relationship between Queen junior and senior seems so forced. The author wants us so badly to like these people.... but they really are not tremendously likeable.

Ellery is an unveiled recreation of Sherlock Holmes in almost every way.

His father could not be more annoying in the way he is constantly putting his own son into the limelight and proclaiming what a genius he is.

Inspector Queen has bipolar disorder.

We are supposed to feel like we’ve known the queens and their quirks forever. That much is blatantly obvious to the point of being sickening.

Narrator is most distinguished only by the fact that he is NOT remarkably obnoxious or annoying. Not remarkably talented or interesting either... but at least he doesn’t make the average book even worse.

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Engaging all the way through

I am going through these early Ellery Queens for the first time. They are delightfully crafted, if spiced with some of the rascism of the day. The narration is clear, the pace solid. The feel is indeed of the roaring 20s here. Off to another one.

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Profile Image for Mark Liddicott
  • Mark Liddicott
  • 01-20-21

Ellery

I love the Ellery Queen books and I recommend them to anyone who likes detective fiction.