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Xの悲劇』byエラリー・クイーン

 エラリー・クイーンの名はとうから知りながら、この四部作(『Yの悲劇』、『Zの悲劇』、『レーン最後の事件』)のうちの1冊に、今ごろ初めて手を出したとは情けない……。背景を知らないわたしは冒頭の「読者への公開状」はわけがわからず??だったが、ストーリーには一気に引き込まれた。

 まず1930年代という時代のせいか、登場人物たちがなんとものどかな印象で、がさつなサム警部にしろ相棒のブルーノ検事にしろ、どうにも憎めない。また謎解きを一手にになう往年のシェークスピア俳優ドルリー・レーンは、ハドスン河を見下ろす丘にハムレット荘という邸宅をかまえ、職業柄セリフの端々にシェークスピアを引用してなんとも雅な存在だ。

 最初の殺人は、満員の路上電車のなかで起きた。株式仲買人のロングストリートが、自分の結婚を祝ってもらうために仲間を引きつれて乗り込んだ際に、何者かがポケットに放り込んだ針山コルクで指にケガをし、塗りつけられた毒で命を落とす。警察が捜査をはじめてまもなく、今度は情報提供を名乗り出た人物が殺される。さらに、警察が犯人と目しながら結果的に無罪で釈放された、ロングストリートの仕事上のパートナー、デウィットも殺される。

 事件の根は思いのほか深く、その幾重にも絡んだトリックを、ドルリー・レーンは緻密な思考を積み重ねて解きほぐしていく。最後の最後に、本書のタイトルに、おもわず唸ってしまう一作。

 

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