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The Crime Fiction Kings Behind Ellery Queen

Two boys from Brooklyn create one of the toughest sleuths of crime fiction's Golden Age.

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  • Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Legendary editor Otto Penzler of Mysterious Press believes, “after Poe, I think it’s true that Ellery Queen was the most significant and important writer of mystery fiction in America.”

Related: 5 Most Underappreciated Crime Writers 

Ellery Queen was actually the pen name of two cousins, Frederic Dannay (1905–1982) and Manfred B. Lee (1905–1971), as well as the name of their most famous detective. Born in Brooklyn, they spent forty-two years writing and editing under the pseudonym, gaining a reputation as the foremost American authors of the Golden Age “fair play” mystery. Besides producing multiple Queen novels–including Calamity Town and The Greek Coffin Mystery–Dannay and Lee co-founded Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, one of the most influential crime publications of all time.

In this video, Penzler and the authors’ sons, Richard Dannay and Rand Lee, speak about the enduring influence of the Ellery Queen mystery series.

Featured photo of Frederic Dannay with James Yaffe: Wikimedia Commons