The Dutch Shoe Mystery (#2)

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The son of a police detective, Ellery Queen grew up in a bloody atmosphere. Since he started lending his deductive powers to the New York City homicide squad, he has seen more than his fair share of mangled corpses. Though he is accustomed to gore, the thought of seeing a living person sliced open makes him ill. So when a doctor invites him to sit in on an operation, Queen braces his stomach. As it happens, his stomach is spared, but his brain must go to work. 

The patient is Abigail Doorn, a millionairess in a diabetic coma. To prepare her for surgery, the hospital staff has stabilized her blood sugar level and wheeled her to the operating theater—but just before the first incision, the doctors realize she is dead, strangled while lying unconscious on her gurney. Queen came to the hospital to watch surgeons work, but now it’s his time to operate.


“First published in 1931, this exceptional entry in the American Mystery Classics series from MWA Grand Master Queen (the pen name of Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee) offers a scrupulously fair puzzle. After well-to-do Abigail Doorn collapses into a diabetic coma, she’s taken to Manhattan’s Dutch Memorial Hospital, where she revives, but later falls down a flight of stairs and ruptures her gall bladder. But when she’s brought into the operating room, she’s found to have been garroted to death, possibly by someone impersonating a surgeon. Her wealth leaves no shortage of suspects for Ellery Queen and his father, NYPD Insp. Richard Queen. Ellery, who epitomizes the infuriatingly brilliant detective, announces at one point that he has learned practically everything about the criminal, except the person’s identity. An interlude in which Ellery and Richard discuss their theories is printed with extra-wide margins for note-taking. Appearing before the final reveal is a challenge that asserts the reader now has all the relevant evidence to deduce Doorn’s murderer. This is a genuine treat for those who love to match wits with fictional detectives.”

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“It’s one of Ellery’s brainiest […] only the most churlish readers would think of resisting it.”


“When a wealthy woman is strangled in a hospital full of witnesses, an early-twentieth-century New York City man-about-town turns sleuth to unmask her murderer. Ellery Queen was the pen name of Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee as well as the name used for their protagonist; the series eventually became a franchise popular on radio and television. The first few novels, of which this is the third (1931), were largely formulated in the style of the upper-class Philo Vance mysteries by S. S. Van Dine, and some modern-day crime fiction fans might find the idea of the sleuth as top-hatted dandy a bit strange. But Queen, while something of a prig, is always amusing, and he mellows out over time. Promise. Resurrected by Otto Penzler for his American Mystery Classics series, this book is a textbook Golden Age “fair play” mystery. Readers accumulate clues and usually solve the crime simultaneously with the detective. Perfect for a discussion group exploring the history and variety of the mystery genre.”


“As an anthologist, Ellery Queen is without peer, his taste unequalled. As a bibliographer and a collector of the detective short story, Queen is, again, a historical personage. Indeed, Ellery Queen clearly is, after Poe, the most important American in mystery fiction.”

Otto Penzler, Publisher of The Mysterious Press

Awards & Accolades