Someone way smarter than me once observed that maps are critical parts of vintage mystery novels and fantasy novels. They’re often the only way to unambiguously set the reader in time and space. 
This one of the murder scene maps from The Greene Murder Case (1928) by S.S. Van Dine.
The later Ellery Queen books employed this device, of course. And many times, knowing exactly where one suspect was in relation to other suspects or in relation to various objects were critical to the resolution. (Fans, I’m thinking of The Dutch Shoe Mystery and The American Gun Mystery.)
Check out the dialogue on this page, by the way. Vance routinely dropped the g’s from the end of his words. I’m told it was a sign of the upper crust at the time. 
Irritatin’, wouldn’t you say?

Someone way smarter than me once observed that maps are critical parts of vintage mystery novels and fantasy novels. They’re often the only way to unambiguously set the reader in time and space. 

This one of the murder scene maps from The Greene Murder Case (1928) by S.S. Van Dine.

The later Ellery Queen books employed this device, of course. And many times, knowing exactly where one suspect was in relation to other suspects or in relation to various objects were critical to the resolution. (Fans, I’m thinking of The Dutch Shoe Mystery and The American Gun Mystery.)

Check out the dialogue on this page, by the way. Vance routinely dropped the g’s from the end of his words. I’m told it was a sign of the upper crust at the time. 

Irritatin’, wouldn’t you say?

Everyone always talks about how the Philo Vance mysteries by S.S. Van Dine inspired the very first Ellery Queen books. But few of us have seen those all books in first editions. I have only three. They’re without dust jackets, but I thought I would share the distinctive covers and post some of the images from inside the books.

A recent post on the blog The Corpse Steps Out inspired me to dig out these books, the oldest of which is 84 years old and prone to crumbling.

The blog post tells you a little about author S.S. Vine (pen name of Willard Huntington Wright) who wrote 12 of these mysteries, popular in the 1920s and 30s.

There’s also a reference to Vance wearing a green carnationcode for gay.

Other images to follow.

I might add that all the Van Dine books are available as a single $9.99 ebook. I haven’t gotten it (and I have no connection to the book) but the preview makes it seem that the publisher has conscientiously scanned and included all the original images that were so critical to mysteries of this era.

This 1970s-era Ballantine edition of THE ADVENTURES of SHERLOCK HOLMES was the paperback boxed set I had as a kid. Each book in the set came with an introduction by a living mystery writer.
I remember the intro by Ellery Queen very well. He tells a wonderful story about being sick with an ear ache and being forced to stay home from school. He picks up a copy of ADVENTURES and is lost forever. 
The essay was charming as hell but I’ve never seen it reprinted anywhere else, and I stupidly tossed my copy when I grew up. Just located it online at this link.
Queenians please note: I strongly suspect that the essay was Frederick Dannay’s work.

This 1970s-era Ballantine edition of THE ADVENTURES of SHERLOCK HOLMES was the paperback boxed set I had as a kid. Each book in the set came with an introduction by a living mystery writer.

I remember the intro by Ellery Queen very well. He tells a wonderful story about being sick with an ear ache and being forced to stay home from school. He picks up a copy of ADVENTURES and is lost forever. 

The essay was charming as hell but I’ve never seen it reprinted anywhere else, and I stupidly tossed my copy when I grew up. Just located it online at this link.

Queenians please note: I strongly suspect that the essay was Frederick Dannay’s work.

I include THE VANISHING CORPSE (1968) because though it was not written by ELLERY QUEEN, it was based on a radio play based on their earlier THE DOOR BETWEEN. It was published also as ELLERY QUEEN MASTER DETECTIVE, and ends with the charming scene of Ellery asking Nikki to become…his secretary.

I include THE VANISHING CORPSE (1968) because though it was not written by ELLERY QUEEN, it was based on a radio play based on their earlier THE DOOR BETWEEN. It was published also as ELLERY QUEEN MASTER DETECTIVE, and ends with the charming scene of Ellery asking Nikki to become…his secretary.

Q.E.D.—Queen’s Experiments in Deduction (1968): Great collection with another president short story, this time Abraham Lincoln. The copy I read as a kid was missing the cover but I later found a hardcover edition. Here’s the Signet cover I probably would have seen in my day.

Q.E.D.—Queen’s Experiments in Deduction (1968): Great collection with another president short story, this time Abraham Lincoln. The copy I read as a kid was missing the cover but I later found a hardcover edition. Here’s the Signet cover I probably would have seen in my day.

QUEENS FULL (1966) contained a couple of Ellery Queen short stories and a Wrightsville novella.

QUEENS FULL (1966) contained a couple of Ellery Queen short stories and a Wrightsville novella.

Q.B.I.—QUEEN’S BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (1955) contained several quick and dirty short-short stories from different areas of crimes such as kidnapping, embezzling, etc. In other words, not just murder.

Q.B.I.—QUEEN’S BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (1955) contained several quick and dirty short-short stories from different areas of crimes such as kidnapping, embezzling, etc. In other words, not just murder.

Loved THE CALENDAR OF CRIME (1952), which had Ellery solving a case for a [American] holiday in every month of the year. I should probably put holiday in quotes. The March mystery is about income taxes. When the book was published, Americans paid their annual federal taxes on March 15; this was later changed to April 15. A personal favorite of mine was the George Washington mystery, in February.

Loved THE CALENDAR OF CRIME (1952), which had Ellery solving a case for a [American] holiday in every month of the year. I should probably put holiday in quotes. The March mystery is about income taxes. When the book was published, Americans paid their annual federal taxes on March 15; this was later changed to April 15. A personal favorite of mine was the George Washington mystery, in February.