- The American Gun Mystery
Infobox Book |
name = The American Gun Mystery
image_caption = No image available.
language = English
Mystery novel/ Whodunnit
Stokes(1st edition, USA); Gollancz(1st edition, UK)
release_date = 1933 (1st edition)
media_type = Print (First paperback edition
Dell Books mapback#4, 1943)
The Egyptian Cross Mystery
The Siamese Twin Mystery
"The American Gun Mystery" is a
novelthat was written in 1933by Ellery Queen. It is the sixth of the Ellery Queenmysteries.
Buck Horne and his faithful horse Injun were once the heroes of many a Western movie in the early days of Hollywood, but when tastes changed, Buck found his talents no longer required. Down on his luck, he went to work in a rodeo exhibition that was appearing in a
New Yorkcoliseum, giving exhibitions of roping, fancy shooting, and the riding tricks that made him famous. With twenty thousand people in the stands, a group of celebrities including detective Ellery Queen in the boxes, and a full cohort of newsreel movie photographers recording the event for posterity, Buck and forty-one cowboys and cowgirls gallop around the track, whooping and firing their six-guns -- until the former movie star is shot in the heart and trampled under the galloping hooves. Suspicion falls on many of the rodeo's performers and staff, and even on some of the celebrities, but one crucial and baffling point must be explained before anyone can be arrested. Even though all 20,000-odd people and the entire arena are searched, and the entire event can be reviewed on film, the specific murder gun cannot be found. Ellery Queen works his way through the details of the murderer's clever plot to set a trap and reveal two astounding surprises -- the identity of the murderer and the hiding place of the gun.
Literary significance & criticism
Ellery Queen.) The character of Ellery Queen and the more-or-less locked room mysterywere probably suggested by the novels featuring detective Philo Vanceby S.S. Van Dine, which were very popular at the time. At this point in time, however, Van Dine's sales were dropping and Queen's were beginning to rise. This novel was the sixth in a long series of novels featuring Ellery Queen, the first nine containing a nationality in the title.
The introduction to this novel contained a detail which is now not considered part of the Ellery Queen canon. The introduction is written as by the anonymous "J.J. McC.", a friend of the Queens. Other details of the lives of the fictional Queen family contained in earlier introductions have now disappeared and are never mentioned again; the introductory device of "J.J. McC." lasts only as long as the "nationality" mysteries.
The novel, and the other "nationality" mysteries, had the unusual feature of a "Challenge to the Reader" just before the ending is revealed -- the novel breaks the
fourth walland speaks directly to the reader, stating that all essential facts have been revealed and the unique solution to the mystery is now possible.
This novel was published in a Mercury edition in 1951 titled "Death at the Rodeo".
* [http://neptune.spaceports.com/~queen/ Ellery Queen - a website on deduction]
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