Frontispiece and title page, The Greene Murder Case (1928) by S.S. Van Dine.
Can’t really picture this house being in New York City, I must say. Even New York of the 1920s.

Frontispiece and title page, The Greene Murder Case (1928) by S.S. Van Dine.

Can’t really picture this house being in New York City, I must say. Even New York of the 1920s.

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?

Murder of an Egyptologist? I don’t remember.
The foldout murder scene map from The Scarab Murder Case (1930) by S.S. Vance Dine

Murder of an Egyptologist? I don’t remember.

The foldout murder scene map from The Scarab Murder Case (1930) by S.S. Vance Dine

Toss an orchid into any conventional still life mystery cover, and you’ve got a Wolfe novel.
The Father Hunt, 1968, Rex Stout.
Bantam Edition, 1980, $1.95.

Toss an orchid into any conventional still life mystery cover, and you’ve got a Wolfe novel.

The Father Hunt, 1968, Rex Stout.

Bantam Edition, 1980, $1.95.

Stout wrote this one when he was 80 years old.
I swear, I think my parents had the same ugly marble ashtray—but never used it to kill.
Death of a Doxy, Rext Stout, 1966.
Bantam edition, 1972, $1.25.

Stout wrote this one when he was 80 years old.

I swear, I think my parents had the same ugly marble ashtray—but never used it to kill.

Death of a Doxy, Rext Stout, 1966.

Bantam edition, 1972, $1.25.

Ladder, garden shovel, baseball‚ all with a silhouette of the big man.
Too Many Clients, Rex Stout, 1960.
Bantam edition, 1986,$2.95.

Ladder, garden shovel, baseball‚ all with a silhouette of the big man.

Too Many Clients, Rex Stout, 1960.

Bantam edition, 1986,$2.95.

What’s going on here? Telephone operators are now moonlighting as judges?
Three Witnesses, 1956, Rex Stout.
1979 cover art, Bantam Books, $2.25.

What’s going on here? Telephone operators are now moonlighting as judges?

Three Witnesses, 1956, Rex Stout.

1979 cover art, Bantam Books, $2.25.

The spiders in question are actually a pair of earrings.
The Golden Spiders, Rex Stout, 1953. 22nd book in the series.
Bantam edition, 1989, $3.50. (The price nearly doubled in 9 years!)

The spiders in question are actually a pair of earrings.

The Golden Spiders, Rex Stout, 1953. 22nd book in the series.

Bantam edition, 1989, $3.50. (The price nearly doubled in 9 years!)

If I remember correctly, this one featured Archie coaching a client through the titular game of Prisoner’s Base to prove a point.
Prisoner’s Base, Rex Stout, 1952.
Bantam edition, 1980, $1.95.

If I remember correctly, this one featured Archie coaching a client through the titular game of Prisoner’s Base to prove a point.

Prisoner’s Base, Rex Stout, 1952.

Bantam edition, 1980, $1.95.

Gun, orchid, key‚everything you need to pull off a murder.
1949, The Second Confession, Rex Stout. 15th book in the Wolfe series.
Bantam edition, 1979, $1.95.

Gun, orchid, key‚everything you need to pull off a murder.

1949, The Second Confession, Rex Stout. 15th book in the Wolfe series.

Bantam edition, 1979, $1.95.