While stranded in the desert, Ellery Queen stumbles across a religious cult
It’s 1943, the war is raging, and sleuthing scribe Ellery Queen wants to do his bit. After a tortuous cross-country drive, he takes a job writing scripts for a Hollywood propaganda house—twelve hours a day of hack work that quickly turns his mind to jelly. After a few weeks, he is so worn down that he can type nothing but gibberish, and he decides to drive home. The trouble starts as soon as he reaches the desert.
His ancient roadster breaks down on the edge of Death Valley. Wandering in search of help, he is saved by a man known as the Teacher, who takes him to an oasis called Quenan. Here, Queen finds a bizarre, reclusive cult that seems to have come straight out of the ancient past. A murder has been committed in the desert, and the Quenanites plan on delivering some Old Testament justice. Queen is just the detective they’ve been waiting for.
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About the Author
Ellery Queen was a pen name created and shared by two cousins, Frederic Dannay (1905–1982) and Manfred B. Lee (1905–1971), as well as the name of their most famous detective. Born in Brooklyn, they spent forty-two years writing, editing, and anthologizing under the name, gaining a reputation as the foremost American authors of the Golden Age “fair play” mystery. Although eventually famous on television and radio, Queen’s first appearance came in 1928, when the cousins won a mystery-writing contest with the book that would eventually be published as The Roman Hat Mystery. Their character was an amateur detective who uses his spare time to assist his police inspector uncle in solving baffling crimes. Besides writing the Queen novels, Dannay and Lee cofounded Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, one of the most influential crime publications of all time. Although Dannay outlived his cousin by nine years, he retired Queen upon Lee’s death.
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