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Authors: Ellery Queen

Greek Coffin Mystery

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The Greek Coffin Mystery
Ellery Queen

To

M. B. W.

WITH GRATITUDE

Contents

Foreword

BOOK ONE

1.
T
omb

2.
H
unt

3.
E
nigma

4.
G
ossip

5.
R
emains

6.
E
xhumation

7.
E
vidence

8.
K
illed?

9.
C
hronicles

10.
O
men

11.
F
oresight

12.
F
acts

13.
I
nquiries

14.
N
ote

15.
M
aze

16.
Y
east

17.
S
tigma

18.
T
estament

19.
E
xpose

20.
R
eckoning

21.
Y
earbook

BOOK TWO

22.
B
ottom

23.
Y
arns

24.
E
xhibit

25.
L
eftover

26.
L
ight

27.
E
xchange

28.
R
equisition

29.
Y
ield

30.
Q
uiz

31.
U
pshot

32.
E
lleryana

33.
E
ye-opener

34.
N
ucleus

CHARACTERS

GEORG KHALKIS
art dealer

GILBERT SLOANE
manager, Khalkis Galleries

DELPHINA SLOANE
Khalkis’ sister

ALAN CHENEY
son of Delphina Sloane

DEMMY
Khalkis’ cousin

JOAN BRETT
Khalkis’ secretary

JAN VREELAND
Khalkis’ traveling representative

LUCY VREELAND
Vreeland’s wife

NACIO SUIZA
director of Khalkis’ art-gallery

ALBERT GRIMSHAW
ex-convict

DR. WARDES
English eye-specialist

MILES WOODRUFF
Khalkis’ attorney

JAMES J. KNOX
millionaire art-connoisseur

DR. DUNCAN FROST
Khalkis’ personal physician

MRS. SUSAN MORSE
a neighbor

JEREMIAH ODELL
plumbing contractor

LILY ODELL
Odell’s wife

REV. JOHN HENRY ELDER SEXTON

HONEYWELL WEEKES Khalkis’ butler

MRS. SIMMS
Khalkis’ housekeeper

PEPPER
Assistant District Attorney

SAMPSON
District Attorney

COHALAN
D. A. detective

DR. SAMUEL PROUTY
Assistant Medical Examiner

EDMUND CREWE
architectural expert

UNA LAMBERT
handwriting expert

“JIMMY”
fingerprint expert

TRIKKALA
Greek interpreter

FLINT, HESSE, JOHNSON, PIGGOTT, HAGSTROM, RITTER
staff detectives

THOMAS VELIE
detective sergeant

DJUNA

INSPECTOR RICHARD QUEEN

ELLERY QUEEN

FOREWORD

I
FIND THE TASK
of prefacing
The Greek Coffin Mystery
one of especial interest, since its publication was preceded by an extraordinary reluctance on the part of Mr. Ellery Queen to permit its publication at all.

Mr. Queen’s readers will perhaps recall, from
Forewords
in previous Queen novels, that it was sheerest accident which caused these authentic memoirs of Inspector Richard Queen’s son to be recast in the mold of fiction and given to the public—and then only after the Queens had retired to Italy to rest, as they say, on their laurels. But after I was able to persuade my friend to permit publication of the first one,
*
the initial Queen affair to be put between covers, things went very smoothly indeed and we found no difficulty in cajoling this sometimes difficult young man into further fictionizations of his adventures during his father’s Inspectorship in the Detective Bureau of the New York Police Department.

Why, then, you ask, Mr. Queen’s reluctance with regard to publication of the Khalkis case-history? For an interesting duality of reasons. In the first place, the Khalkis case occurred early in his career as unofficial investigator under the cloak of the Inspector’s authority; Ellery had not yet at that time fully crystallized his famous analytico-deductive method. In the second place—and this I am sure is the more powerful reason of the two—Mr. Ellery Queen until the very last suffered a thoroughly humiliating beating in the Khalkis case. No man, however modest—and Ellery Queen, I think he will be the first to agree, is far from that—cares to flaunt his failures to the world. He was put to shame publicly, and the wound has left its mark. “No,” he said positively, “I don’t relish the notion of castigating myself all over again, even in print.”

It was not until we pointed out to him—his publishers and I—that far from being his worst failure, the Khalkis case (published under the present title of
The Greek Coffin Mystery)
was his greatest success, that Mr. Queen began to waver—a human reaction which I am glad to point out to those cynical souls who have accused Ellery Queen of being something less than human. … Finally, he threw up his hands and gave in.

It is my earnest belief that it was the amazing barriers of the Khalkis case that set Ellery’s feet in the path that was to lead him to such brilliant victories later. Before this case was done, he had been tried by fire, and …

But it would be rude to spoil your enjoyment. You may take the word of one who knows the details of every single affair to which—I trust he will forgive my amicable enthusiasm—he applied the singing keenness of his brain, that
The Greek Coffin Mystery
from many angles is Ellery Queen’s most distinguished adventure.

Happy hunting!

J. J. McC.

*
The Roman Hat Mystery,
Frederick A. Stokes Company, publisher (1929).

FLOOR PLAN OF KHALKIS HOUSE

A—KHALKIS’ LIBRARY

B—KHALKIS’ BEDROOM

C—DEMMY’S BEDROOM

D—KITCHEN

E—STAIRS TO 2ND FLOOR

F—DINING ROOM

G—DRAWING ROOM

H—FOYER

J—SERVANTS’ ROOMS

K—BATHROOMS

L—VREELANDS’ ROOM

M—SLOANES’ ROOMS

N—JOAN BRETT’S ROOM

O—DR. WARDES’ ROOM

P—CHENEY’S ROOM

Q—SECOND GUEST ROOM

ATTIC NOT DIVIDED INTO ROOMS

BOOK ONE

“I
N SCIENCE, IN HISTORY,
in psychology, in all manner of pursuits which require an application of thought to the appearance of phenomena, things are very often not what they seem. Lowell, the illustrious American thinker, said: ‘A wise scepticism is the first attribute of a good critic.’ I think precisely the same theorem can be laid down for the student of criminology. …

“The human mind is a fearful and tortuous thing. When any part of it is warped

even if it be so lightly that all the instruments of modern psychiatry cannot detect the warping

the result is apt to be confounding. Who can describe a motive? A passion? A mental process?

“My advice, the gruff dictum of one who has been dipping his hands into the unpredictable vapours of the brain for more years than he cares to recall, is this: Use your eyes, use the little grey cells God has given you, but be ever wary. There is pattern but no logic in criminality. It is your task to cohere confusion, to bring order out of chaos.”

—Closing Address by
PROF. FLORENZ BACHMANN
to Class in
Applied Criminology
at University of Munich (1920)

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