The American Gun Mystery

The American Gun Mystery

The American Gun Mystery is an early Ellery Queen mystery originally published in 1933. It has been out-of-print for over thirty years until now.

I’m a fan of Queen and have read four of the earliest novels with pleasure. This is my first time reading this book. I was disappointed in three ways. First, the prose and Ellery’s posturing was even more pretentious than usual. Second, the plot was convoluted but not in a good way. Part of the problem was that it didn’t seem fair that Ellery kept some major plot points to himself until right before the reveal. Is this book truly solvable by an armchair detective? Not as likely as it was in the earlier books in this series. Finally, the blatant racism is rather disturbing when reading it in a new century. It does make you appreciate how times have changed for the better—though much work still needs to be done.

Due to the problems enumerated above, The American Gun Mystery will probably appeal only to Ellery Queen’s fans. I can see now why it was out-of-print for so long. However, completists will enjoy reading it. 3 stars.

Thanks to Penzler Publishers, American Mystery Classics and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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