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Philo Vance Murder Cases Books In Order

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Publication Order of Philo Vance Books

The Benson Murder Case (1926)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Canary Murder Case (1927)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Greene Murder Case (1928)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Bishop Murder Case (1928)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Scarab Murder Case (1929)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Kennel Murder Case (1933)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Dragon Murder Case (1934)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Casino Murder Case (1934)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Garden Murder Case (1935)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Kidnap Murder Case (1936)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Gracie Allen Murder Case / The Smell of Murder (1938)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Winter Murder Case (1939)Description / Buy at Amazon

The Philo Vance Murder Cases series is a well-known series of mystery, historical fiction, detective fiction, and crime fiction novels. It is written by a popular American writer named Willard Huntington Wright under the pseudonym of S.S. Van Dine. The series consists of a total of 12 books released between 1926 & 1939. The books in this series revolve around murder cases that the chief protagonist, Philo Vance, investigates and solves. Philo Vance was a very famous fictional character during the 1920s & 1930s. He has been featured in numerous novels, radio shows, and movies. His character has been portrayed as a highly intellectual and stylish man. The novels featuring Vance are chronicled by Van Dine, his friend and partner. In the earlier books, the author claimed that Philo Vance was actually an alias and the sleuth altered his details to protect his real identity. The claim was then forgotten in the later books. This process was later used to describe other fictional detectives like Ellery Queen by their respective authors.

Philo Vance is introduced in the first book as a man possessing unusual brilliance and culture. He is an aristocrat by instinct. He likes to be alone from other men and appears to have indefinable inferiority. A majority of people who know him think he is a snob. However, Vance’s snobbishness is social as well as intellectual. He is described as a cynic possessing Juvenalian and flippant cynicism. Vance has a keen interest in human reactions. Also, he possesses good psychological knowledge. He seems to have the gift of instinctive and accurate judgment about people that gets rationalized and coordinated further because of his habit of reading and studying. In the second installment, Van Dine has given a detailed description of the physical features of Phil Vance. He is described as a good-looking man with grey eyes and straight & slender nose. Vance’s chin is narrow and he has a height of fewer than 6 feet. Phil Vance possesses a number of skills that are evident from the fact that he is an expert fencer, golfer, dog breeder, polo player, great poker player, horse racer, etc. Phil also likes classical music, fine food & drink, the game of chess, foreign languages. Chinese ceramics, ancient history, Renaissance art, etc.

Van Dine has told in the novels that Vance is greatly passionate about art. He likes the Chinese and Japanese prints very much. As far as his dressing style is concerned, he mostly likes to wear a monocle and dress impeccably. Phil Vance’s speech is quite quaint. The later books show that Vance smokes cigarette very much. He is seen taking puffs through the investigation in the stories. As per the views of many critics, the mannerisms of Vance made him look a like a poseur, a foppish dandy. Some believe that the author purposely described Vance in such a manner and wanted to make the readers question the sexuality of Vance. The Phil Vance books contain the primary characters other than Vance as John Markham, Dr. Emanuel Doremus, Van Dine, Ernest Health, Currie, and others. Van Dine is seen accompanying Vance in all his investigations. He is the one who narrates the events in the books. He considers himself the chief advisor of Vance, especially in the legal and financial matters. John Markham is depicted as a district attorney of the New York County. He has served just one term of four years.

John is a bachelor who resides in an apartment in Manhattan. He appears to be a no-nonsense person and likes to take life with serious and grim concern. Ernest Health is a sergeant in the New York PD. He lacks imagination, misuse grammar, doesn’t take any nonsense from the suspects. Ernest has a lot of respect for Philo Vance and he too respects him while working together. When Ernest is working on any case, he tends to sleep very less. Emanuel Doremus is a medical examiner based in New York City. He has the habit of complaining constantly. When Emanuel sits down to have a meal, he often gets a call to check corpses. Currie serves as an all-around servant. He acts as Vance’s valet, specialty cook, butler, and major-domo. A number of films have been made between the late 1920s and 1940s featuring the character of Philo Vance. The actors who have portrayed Vance in the movies include William Powell, Basil Rathbone, Warren William, Edmund Lowe, Paul Lukas, Grant Richards, etc. Many radio series and TV shows have also been made in the 1940s and 1970s respectively that feature Philo Vance.

A very successful book of the Philo Vance Murder Cases is entitled ‘The Canary Murder Case’. It was first published in 1927 and re-released in 1979. This book begins by showing that the Homicide Bureau comes to about the murder of Margret Odell, the beautiful Broadway actress known as The Canary. Her body is found strangulated in her apartment. Margaret was known to have held relationships with many men, including high society businessmen and gangsters. And in the investigation, it is revealed that multiple men had arrived at Margaret’s apartment on the night of her murder. Philo Vance uses his characteristic erudition to discover an important clue that helps him to penetrate a cunning alibi and unravel the identity of the murderer. The daring, the strangeness, and the impenetrability of this murder case made it one of the most astonishing and singular cases in the police annals of New York. Had it not been for the involvement of Philo Vance, the killer would have remained at large and the case would have never been solved.

Another exciting book in this series is known as ‘The Casino Murder Case’. It was released in 1934. This book was adapted into a movie in 1935. At the novel’s start, it is mentioned that Vance receives a letter from an anonymous person informing him that violence is about to take place in a well-known family. The letter also tells Vance that something interesting is going to take place in a casino on the same night. Philo takes the letter seriously and goes to attend. He sees the family’s heir collapsing from poisoning immediately after a drink is served to him. At the same time, the heir’s wife dies due to poisoning in a different part of the town. As Vance begins the investigation of the wife’s murder, he learns that the heir’s sister has also died the same death in the family mansion. When the son recovers, he blames his mother for poisoning his wife and sister. Vance enlists other suspects and workouts every possible angle to establish how the wife was administered poison and find the real murderer.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Philo Vance Murder Cases

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