The Kidnap Murder Case

The Kidnap Murder Case is a 1936 murder mystery novel by S. S. Van Dine, the tenth of twelve books featuring fictional detective Philo Vance.

The Kidnap Murder Case
First edition
AuthorS. S. Van Dine
CountryUnited States
SeriesPhilo Vance
GenreMystery, Detective Novel
PublisherCharles Scribner's Sons
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages316 pp
Preceded byThe Garden Murder Case 
Followed byThe Gracie Allen Murder Case 

Plot summary

A member of the wealthy Kenting family is kidnapped, and Philo Vance's suspicions lead him to the victim's home, the "Purple House" on New York's 86th Street. A mysterious ransom note and the family collection of gems both play a part in the plot, which ends with the murderer's suicide with the connivance of Vance. "To be sure, the motive for the crime, or, I should say, crimes, was the sordid one of monetary gain ... through Vance's determination and fearlessness, through his keen insight into human nature and his amazing flair for the ramifications of human psychology, he was able to penetrate beyond the seemingly conclusive manifestations of the case."[1]

Literary significance and criticism

Crime novelist and critic Julian Symons wrote, "The decline in the last six Vance books is so steep that the critic who called the ninth of them one more stitch in his literary shroud was not overstating the case."[2]


  1. Page 2, Van Dine, S. S. (1936). The Kidnap Murder Case, (1948), first paperback edition, New York: Bantam #300.
  2. Symons, Julian, Bloody Murder, London: Faber and Faber 1972, with revisions in Penguin Books 1974, ISBN 0-14-003794-2

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