It is always gratifying to put something up for a vote and then see a mad rush to the polls. Tens of thousands of eager fans showed up to choose the best episode of the Ellery Queen mystery series, and I was all set to post the results yesterday. But then someone who had hacked into my poll protested that the election had been faked. Within hours, hundreds of protesters had gathered outside my little home, waving signs pushing a win for “The Adventure of Colonel Nivin’s Memoirs” (which had only received two votes) and chanting “Stop the Steal!” until the staff of the library across the street came outside waving books in their hands, which acted upon the protesters like garlic to a vampire.
Okay, none of that really happened.
And maybe there weren’t tens of thousands who voted, only . . . tens. I want to thank all of you who did vote: it was a job well done, and since there were TWO ties and a surprise winner (not that I don’t consider it worthy of winning – I just thought another episode would claim that honor), the unfurling of the results from fifth place to first takes on a new level of excitement!!!
In FIFTH PLACE, we have a tie:
“The Adventure of the Pharoah’s Curse”
“The Adventure of the Judas Tree”
“Pharoah’s Curse was a favorite of mine: the atmosphere, the clever clues, and the surprise killer (who gave a wonderful confession speech) all made this a great forty-five minutes of mystery. “Judas Tree” was a nicely different sort of case with a clever ending.
In FOURTH PLACE:
“The Adventure of the Wary Witness”
I was so happy to see this one given some love, as it contains a nice reversal at the end and a speech where you could tell this case was personal for Ellery.
In THIRD PLACE, we have another tie:
“The Adventure of the Mad Tea Party”
“The Adventure of Caesar’s Last Sleep”
Here’s the big surprise! I fully expected “Mad Tea Party” to claim first place, but my clientele is far more discerning or had different expectations for what they wanted to see in the best of EQ. That’s not to say that 3rd place is bad, and MTP shares it with another great great episode where the EQ formula is tweaked a bit and things do not turn out as one might expect. I like the personal stakes for Inspector Queen in “Caesar,” as well as the surprise killer, method, and the reversal of expectations for that “dying message”.
In SECOND PLACE:
“The Adventure of Miss Aggie’s Farewell Performance”
How could this episode not crack the top three, containing so many charming guest stars and a nicely played attempted murder that twists around all our expectations. I’ll admit I like the charm and atmosphere of this one more than the mystery itself, but the fans have spoken and I heartily concur that this was one of the very top episodes.
And now for the drum roll . . . . . . . .
In FIRST PLACE:
“The Adventure of the Sinister Scenario”
I have to admit that as a mystery, this episode stands head and shoulders above “The Mad Tea Party.” It’s also nice to see an homage to Ellery in Hollywood, which – if you know the canon – was a real thing! To be honest, I feel like “Sinister Scenario” was ultimately a stronger case than what we got in the actual Ellery Queen books set in La-La Land, but I’m not sure everyone would agree.
Maybe I need to do another poll . . .