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George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

The Dragon's Teeth

cover image By: Queen, Ellery (pseudonym of Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee) (male)
Publisher: Pocket Books, Inc. (459) - 1st printing
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 355: PS3533 .U4 D7 1947
Contributor: S. Snyder


Era: 1930s Author as on Cover: Ellery Queen Geographic Locale: New York City and Tarrytown, NY; Hollywood, California Date of Publication: 1947  |  Original Date: 1939 Setting: urban, with some scenes at a large estate in Tarrytown. The urban scenes are either in a hotel or in the detective agency. Motives: greed, murder Alternate Title: The Virgin Heiress

Plot Summary

"Cadmus Cole left a fortune to his nieces -- with a string attached. Neither girl received a dime if she were married -- or kept a dime if she got married later. In either case, or if one died, the other got all the loot. Ellery Queen located the lucky ladies. One was Kerrie Shawn, Hollywood extra. The other, Margo Cole, came from France. But when the nieces met, it was hate at first sight. The situation turned into a nightmare of blackmail, attempted murder and double-dealing love! Then one niece was shot and the other was found beside her holding a smoking gun. The case looked open and shut. But Ellery Queen set out to prove that the living heiress was innocent, despite the evidence, and that a much more dangerous killer was at work -- a killer who might strike again!" (from the back cover of the 1954 Pocket Books edition).

Major Characters

Ellery Queen adult male, early 30s, son of a homicide detective, professional private investigator

Beau Rummell adult male, about 25 years old, large, handsome man with a law degree who has wandered around doing all sorts of odd jobs over the years, private detective

Margo Cole aka Ann Bloomer, adult female, early 30s, con artist

Lloyd Goossens adult male, 30s, attorney, habitual pipe smoker who, without a pipe in his mouth, chews on pens

Kerrie Shawn adult female, early 20s, Hollywood extra

Inspector Queen adult male, middle-aged, Ellery's father, homicide detective

Cadmus Cole adult male, elderly, recluse, discussed but not actually seen in the novel; physical description given as totally bald, toothless, with crippling arthritis and an ugly disposition; hates the institution of marriage; retired businessman

Edmund De Carlos adult male, middle-aged, employee of and companion to Cadmus Cole; wears a dark wig and beard, has dentures and is nearsighted; without beard is nearly bald but with a gray fringe of hair

Violet Day adult female, late 20s, tall, blonde, Hollywood extra, friend to Kerrie Shawn

Captain Angus adult male, middle-aged, large, deeply tanned, retired captain of Cadmus Cole's boat


knives, guns

Level of Violence

attempted murder with a knife; shooting of Margo; Beau often seems on the edge of physical violence, but only resorts to it once, when he shakes Edmund De Carlos. Earlier episodes of Beau's violence are referred to, but in general, violence is mentioned only briefly and in a manner that describes what happens for the story's sake, but does not dwell on the violence nor glorify it or go into gory detail.


sexuality is alluded to, but never described graphically. There is some kissing in the story.

Gender Roles

traditional gender roles are followed throughout the novel. Kerrie is the woman who needs protection from Beau, and he is depicted as a good guy with a hot temper that his partner Ellery helps to keep under control. Margo is portrayed as a scheming, conniving female who is obviously a very bad person.


no racial or ethnic issues in the story; there are no non-white characters.

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

alcohol is quite evident -- Edmund De Carlos is more often than not depicted as drunk or in the process of becoming drunk, and this seems to be viewed contemptuously by the other characters. The detectives keep a bottle of Scotch in the desk drawer and pull it out mostly in times of stress, or when trying to get information out of Mr. De Carlos.

Law Enforcement

both the local law enforcement agency and the district attorney's office are involved after the shooting. They grudgingly cooperate with the detectives because Ellery Queen is the son of Inspector Queen, who heads the case for the police department. They see it as an open and shut case, but are willing to delay proceedings to hear what the detectives come up with.

Subject Headings

California - Hollywood/ New York (N.Y.)/ Murder/ Detectives, Private

Psychological Elements

greed and an inability to control one's gambling seem to be the major psychological elements here.