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It all starts out like a 'usual' case of diamond robbery - which Ellery and Nikki want to solve for their (and our) old friend Velie, whom Ellery's father has just sacked from the police force for one more blunder the poor guy had made. But, while following the first hot track, in the shape of mysterious Mr. Gillette (Gilbert Roland, none less!), Nikki is mistaken for "Mrs. Gestapo" - which gives them a hunch that there might be Nazis involved in this case.
And then Ellery finally learns that the money for the stolen diamonds which had been smuggled into the country in an ancient Egyptian coffin is to be used to aid the Dutch Resistance fighters; and so, of course, he risks literally everything to help the cause, until he's confronted at last with the German Nazis and their American stooges in their well-covered hideout, a bathing house. And there he and Nikki learn what the Germans want the diamonds for: to construct more high precision weapons, of course, for their megalomaniac goals... How lucky for our heroes that the good old US Marines soon come for help and make mincemeat of the Nazis, and the diamonds are recovered to serve their initial aim!
To fans of the 'average' Ellery Queen detective stories this may seem somewhat unusual (although in the "Penthouse Mystery" he had also helped the people of a nation that suffered from - Japanese - Nazism: the Chinese!); but at a close look, it's perfectly possible to turn an 'ordinary' robbery case into a wartime adventure - which isn't AT ALL far-fetched or exaggerated. OK, the Germans are portrayed a bit like caricatures (a fashion of the time, as can be very well understood if you consider that millions of American soldiers were fighting them at that moment over in Europe, and the people at home of course wanted to believe that those 'Krauts' really WERE as dumb as they were shown in the movies...) - but what strikes me most about this picture is that a 'simple' crime movie actually DARED to deal with the VERY serious matter of the Fifth Column in a way that not even war films or other so-called 'flagwavers' did!
It all starts with James Burke escorting prisoner Louis Donath on a train where William Gargan and Margaret Lindsay are also returning from a vacation. He locks Donath in the drawing room handcuffed and gets slugged and then finds a dead prisoner. Someone was afraid Donath would squeal for a deal in custody.
Donath had a lot to squeal about. There was a shipment of diamonds to be smuggled with an Egyptian mummy consigned to a gallery owned by Gale Sondergaard and her late husband who got late courtesy of Donath. It all leads to a health club managed by Sig Ruman in his best Teutonic accent and manner.
In the end the Marines save the day. Nice to know they're around to be sent for.
Patriotic in its time, the climax now looks quite a bit silly and very dated. Still the mystery itself was nicely put together.