The Greene Murder Case

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The Greene Murder Case
SSVanDine TheGreeneMurderCase.jpg
First edition
Author S. S. Van Dine
Country United States
Language English
Series Philo Vance
Genre Mystery, Detective Novel
Publisher Charles Scribner's
Publication date
24 March 1928
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 388 pp
Preceded by The Canary Murder Case
Followed by The Bishop Murder Case

The Greene Murder Case is a 1928 mystery novel by S. S. Van Dine. It focuses on the murders, one by one, of members of the wealthy and contentious Greene family: "The holocaust that consumed the Greene family", as detective Philo Vance memorably puts it. This is the third in the series of Philo Vance whodunits, and the first of the Vance books not inspired by a real-life crime.

Plot synopsis[edit]

Philo Vance takes a hand when, one evening, a daughter of the Greene family is shot to death and another one is wounded. The family comprises two sons and three daughters (the youngest, Ada, is adopted) under the rule of their mother, a bedridden invalid who spends her days feeling sorry for herself and cursing her ungrateful children. The family is required to live in the Greene mansion under the terms of their father's will. The German cook seems strangely attached to the adopted daughter; other hangers-on include the mother's physician, who is courting Sibella Greene, and the enigmatic butler. Later, the two Greene brothers and the mother are killed and the only family left are the two surviving daughters, jaunty modern Sibella and shy Ada, against whom two murder attempts have been made. The murders are complicated by sets of mysterious footprints appearing in the snow which seem to have been made in an impossible way and by the suggestion that the paralyzed mother has been seen walking in the halls. Philo Vance reduces the facts of the case to just under a hundred paragraphs, sets them in order, and solves the case.

Literary significance and criticism[edit]

The Greene Murder Case became the number four bestseller in the US during its first year of publication.[1] "An overblown and overfootnoted tale recording the exploits of Philo Vance. He solves a series of murders in an old New York mansion, ostensibly by tumbling to the fact that the murderer's method was plagiarized from Gross's Handbuch für Untersuchungsrichter, but actually by waiting until the criminal has disposed of most the family."[2]

A book with this title receives a mention in Walker Percy's novel, "The Moviegoer".

Film adaptations[edit]

from the 1929 film The Greene Murder Case

The Greene Murder Case (1929) starred William Powell as Philo Vance.

Another version, entitled Night of Mystery (1937), was based on The Greene Murder Case and starred Grant Richards as Philo Vance. Reportedly, no prints exist outside of university/museum collections.

Czech television produced a TV movie, Vyvraždění rodiny Greenů, in 2002, directed by Jiří Strach and starring Jiří Dvořák as Philo Vance.


  1. ^ "Scribner Chronology". Princeton education libraries. Retrieved 2007-02-02. 
  2. ^ Barzun, Jacques and Taylor, Wendell Hertig. A Catalogue of Crime. New York: Harper & Row. 1971, revised and enlarged edition 1989. ISBN 0-06-015796-8


External links[edit]