Cat Of Many Tails Author:Ellery Queen MYSTERIES IN OUR MODERN WORLD — The mystery story is the answer of modern times to the problems of modern times. — A few years ago business jogged along at an even pace behind a horse and buggy transportation. Radio was unknown, the telephone was only being perfected, mails were slow and businessmen copied their correspondence by placing a letter... more » between sheets of moist blotting paper and screwing down the wheel of a letter press.
Then high pressure hit business. Everything is speeded up so much today that the great problem is how to relax.
The busy executive can't simply forget his problems.They are too pressing, too urgent and too intimate. The only answer is to find something else which will fully occupy the mind. The ordinary novel simply doesn't have the power, the punch, the action.
That's why the sale of sleeping tablets and of mystery stories have multiplied to astronomical proportions during the last twenty-five years.
It is, of course, a lot better to refresh the mind by giving it something new and interesting to work on than to dull it into oblivion by the use of drugs.
Several years ago I wrote a book dealing with what was at that time a novel adaptation of scientific principle. My publisher, fearing there might be some inaccuracies, asked one of the most noted scientists in the country to check certain pages, and sent him the entire manuscript.
That scientist was "up to his ears" in war work. The letter which he sent was a classic.
He said he had started to read the first page of the manuscript, had become interested, had dropped everything else, and didn't realize the passing of time until two and a half hours later when he finished the last page of the manuscript. Then he turned out the light and had the first uninterrupted, blissful eight hours of repose he had had in years. He awakened the next morning refreshed and eager to tackle the problems which confronted him. The mystery had been exciting enough to drive the problems right out of his mind.
Quite by accident that scientist had learned the secret of perfect mental repose.
Which is why the modern mystery story is selling like hot cakes to the more intelligent class of reader. It is no accident that mystery stories have been in the White House for the last twenty-five years. The "intelligentsia" may speak disparagingly of the mystery, but the best minds in the world are reading them.