Wednesday, February 1, 2012
The Glass-Domed Clock - Ellery Queen
Story: The Glass-Domed Clock
Author: Ellery Queen
Source: The Adventures of Ellery Queen (Queen’s Quorum Title # 90), First published in the 1933 October issue of Mystery League, also included in ‘The Best of Ellery Queen’.
Story Number: 32
Finally, before moving on to the few modern practitioners that I’ve read, I would like to close the list of the old authors with none other than Ellery Queen.
There’s nobody in the history of detective fiction that has had such a significant impact on the growth of the detective short story as the duo of Frederic Dannay & Manfred Lee, writing under the pseudonym of Ellery Queen! In addition to the numerous cleverly plotted novels, 8 short story collections and a few remarkable critical studies, their contribution to the creation of the numerous anthologies remain unparalleled. And their legacy continues even to this day in the form of the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.
This story selected from their first collection of short stories starts off with a challenge to the reader by quoting that of all the hundreds of criminal cases solved by Ellery Queen, none offered a simpler diagnosis than that of the Glass-Domed Clock! And the explanation from Ellery lasts throughout the final one third part of the story after claiming it as a ‘simple’ case which anybody with a common sense could have solved.
Martin Orr has been found murdered in his curio shop - with the most curious feature being the effort put in by the dying man to grab a purple amethyst and the glass-domed clock, the least accessible amongst all his other easily accessible relics – which would surely qualify as a dying message to identify the culprit? The suspects include the murdered man’s 5 friends who had met the previous night for their weekly poker game (which obviously ended in a tumultuous way), his wife and his assistant. Their professions range from a jeweler to a newspaperman to Wall Street brokers.
Of all the things, it is the fact that one of them celebrated his 50th birthday a few days ago which interests Ellery most. He shows even more interest in the gifts received by him from the remaining gentlemen in that group. He doesn’t explain as to why he thinks he is gone find a clue among those gifts but a clue he does find amongst all the doggerel verse that has been inscribed on these gifts. Based on which, he is able to shed light on the two enigmatic items found in the dead man’s hand which clearly points to only one man in that group as the culprit – which incidentally, he isn’t!