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There Was an Old Woman Paperback – 1 Jan 1992

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Paperback, 1 Jan 1992
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPerennial; 1st HarperPerennial Ed edition (Jan. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060974400
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060974404
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,534,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an interesting story which avoids the over-complexity of some of the earlier Ellery Queen books, but still has a cast of eccentric characters- totally unrealistic but fun. There is a great deal of misdirection and thus a good surprise as to who is the criminal. I think it is marred by the romantic bit at the end, but there we are. Basically, if you like ingenuity, a certain bloodless lack of engagement with reality ( i.e. escapism), and some clear and unpretentious writing, this is good bedtime reading.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
arrived quickly, glad to see that they are putting these books on cd
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars 9 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eccentric Characters, Well-Crafted Plot - Challenging 26 Oct. 2004
By Michael Wischmeyer - Published on
Format: Paperback
There Was An Old Woman named Cornelia Potts, who amassed a fortune selling shoes: Potts Shoes are America's Shoes - $3.99 Everywhere! This eccentric woman lived with her six adult children in a mansion most notable for a huge bronze statue of an Oxford Shoe that decorated the extensive lawn. Her children from her first marriage - the aggressive Thurlow, the secretive Louella, and the playful Horatio - are all decidedly unbalanced. The three children from her second marriage, the twins Robert and Maclyn, and the beautiful Sheila, appear normal. Her argumentative son, Thurlow, challenged one of the twins to a duel. Mrs. Potts didn't know what to do. Actually, Mrs. Potts was not even concerned.

There Was An Old Woman (1943) is a classic Ellery Queen mystery. The reader is challenged to unravel a carefully constructed logical puzzle. The unusual setting, the eccentric characters, and the bizarre murders add spice to the effort. In the final chapters Ellery Queen peels away layers of confusion and misdirection, finally unveiling the culprit. The solution is surprising. Queen's logic, as usual, is convincing.

The Ellery Queen novels were immensely popular during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Paperback editions continued to be widely available in the 1960s and 1970s. Signet Classic Mysteries often packaged two Ellery Queen mysteries together as a double mystery. Later, fifty year commemorative editions were published, beginning in 1979 with the first Ellery Queen novel, The Roman Hat Mystery (1929). Reprints (from HarperPerennial and others) continue to be published today.

I particularly recommend the early Ellery Queen mysteries, especially The French Powder Mystery, The Greek Coffin Mystery, The Egyptian Cross Mystery, The Siamese Twin Mystery, The Chinese Orange Mystery, and The Spanish Cape Mystery.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars tantalising 4 Jun. 2000
By jenny mah chin hua - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best Ellery Queen's books I have ever read. It just kept you guessing as to who is the killer. I have read a number of mystery books and Ellery Queen is by far the best. When the identity of the killer was finally revealed in the end I can only shake my head and say 'now why didn't I think of that?'
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cool! 1 Sept. 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I read it at bed time every night. I awaited every moment to find out what happens next. It's a great mystery and you don't know til the very end what will happen.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic whodunit 17 July 2008
By Joseph Boone - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Potts family sits atop a fortune built on selling millions of shoes but all is not well in their kingdom. The matriarch, Cornelia Potts is a bitter old hag, three of her six grown children appear to be insane while the remaining three start dying one by one. It's up to Ellery Queen and his father, the Inspector to solve the mystery but even Ellery is stumped to come up with answers amidst one of the most bizarre collection of suspects he's ever stumbled upon.

While I haven't read a great many Ellery Queen novels, I think I'm safe in saying that few of them have a more convoluted path to the ultimate solution, and few stumped Ellery for as long as this one did. Fortunately, the journey is an enjoyable one and the supporting cast is varied and interesting. The Potts household is filled with offbeat characters and Ellery even falls for one of them, which adds an interest element.

This book should please just about anyone looking for a good old-fashioned whodunit. Modern mysteries have largely abandoned this style of novel and I for one enjoy a detective story that focuses primarily on detection instead of police procedure, violence, suspense, and the other elements that are commonly added into the mix (although those can be very enjoyable in their own way as well). I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a good mystery whether you're a first time Ellery Queen reader or a long-time fan.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EQ At The Top of Has Game 9 April 2011
By drkhimxz - Published on
Format: Paperback
For only a quarter plus the customary shipping charges, I was able to pick up a decent paper bound reading copy of this top of the line Ellery Queen puzzler. Written in 1943, Ellery has changed from the S. S. Van Dine (Willard Wright) type of cold blooded thinking machine (as was Philo Vance) to a much more likable chap, human enough to acquire a female secretary who actually heats up his blood (Nikki Porter). Following this book she appears occasionally in later novels and was a regular in the popular radio series of this period.
As was characteristic of his best work, there is a powerful offbeat character at the center of the action. As is customary, this very idiosyncratic person lives in distinctive surroundings among a cast of not quite all there supporting players.
Ellery innocently comes to visit at the inducement of a friend in love with the one reasonably normal person in the place and soon finds himself a second to a participant in a modern day duel. From then on, the initial problem is confounded by complexity and yet more problems arise until Ellery emerges with a conclusion.... or does he.
As always well written, peopled with interesting characters and situations, and with a thread of humor, the book shows no signs of aging, despite the weight of 68 years at this writing. Recommended to all who take to mysteries that offer literacy, problem-solving, and the triumph of good over evil.
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