ELLERY QUEEN – The Fourth Side of the Triangle. Random House, hardcover, 1965. Paperback reprints include: Pocket, 1967; Ballantine, 1975, 1979. Actually written by Avram Davidson, from detailed story outline by Fred Dannay. TV pilot: 23 March 1975, as Ellery Queen: Too Many Suspects (screenwriters: Richard Levinson & William Link; Jim Hutton as EQ & David Wayne as Inspector Queen).

   An earlier report on this later stage EQ novel was posted here as part of my series of Diary Reviews written over fifty years ago. Since a copy of the book came back into my hands soon after the earlier review went online, I thought coincidences like that should rewarded, and a re-read really really ought to take place. And so I did.

   It’s a strange hybrid of a book in a couple of ways. First of all, although his name is on the title page, Ellery Queen didn’t really write it. As the bibliographic info up above so states, SF writer Avram Davidson did, following an outline furnished by Fred Dannay, who probably polished it afterward as well.

   To me, the collaboration worked well. A second reading over this past weekend showed that either (A) I couldn’t tell that EQ himself didn’t write it, or maybe (B) it’s been so long since I’ve read an EQ novel that I couldn’t recognize a book written by EQ if my reputation as a devout reader of EQ in my youth depended on it.

   The other double-headed nature of the book is that it was written in the midst of the Swinging Sixties, and the authors’ sensibilities suggested strongly that a book written in the 60s ought to reflect that, but also with the realization that maybe EQ readers in the 60s really wanted to read an EQ mystery of the 30s as well, complete with a wacky puzzle to be solved.

   Which is exactly what this book provides. A leading character, a famous female dress-designer is known for her many companions in bed, lovers who come, however, serially, strictly one at a time. She has seen no reason to get married to any of them, an idea that was certainly around in the 30s but it would have been highly unlikely in an EQ novel.

   The triangle of the title consists of (1) the aforementioned fashion designer, (2) her latest lover, (3) the man’s wife, and (4) the man’s son, who upon learning the liaison between father and mistress, decides to become the lady’s lover himself. Well, given the four sides as just described, it is not surprising that one of the them is killed, and each of the other three is put on trial for that person’s death, serially, one at a time.

   It is obvious, I think, that this is a situation that would never come up in the real world, but in the world of Ellery Queen? Yes. Along with several twists along the way, a couple of mammoth coincidences and a wicked puzzle to be solved. Is Ellery Queen as an armchair detective (two broken legs) up to solving it? Read this one and see.

PostScript: I gave this one 3½ stars out of five the first time I read it. That’s an assessment that’s a little high this time around, but all in all, it’s close enough.