The Key to Nicholas Street by Stanley Ellin

The Key to Nicholas Street by Stanley Ellin

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A grisly murder reveals the hateful secrets that lie beneath a small town’s surface

The locals call her the Ballou. An illustrator for a high-fashion magazine, she has been the talk of the upstate town of Sutton ever since she first appeared, paying cash for one of the finest houses on Nicholas Street. Daring, gaudy, and grand, she inspires envy in the women and lust in the men. And in one member of this quiet town, she is about to inspire murder.

The trouble starts when her rakish New York lover moves in full time, scandalizing the prudish Ayers family next door. When the Ayers’ maid pays a social call to the Ballou, she finds her lying dead at the foot of a staircase—gray, cold, and fabulous no more. Suspicion falls on the Ayerses, whose starched exterior hides a wealth of ugly secrets.

From this interlocking narrative told from the perspectives of the citizens of Sutton comes a reminder that no town is too small for murder.


“Intelligent, intense entertainment.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Ellin consistently wrote the best mystery stories of his time.” — Lawrence Block

“One of the modern masters of the genre, with a reputation built firmly upon novels and some of the most imaginative stories in the mystery-suspense field.” — Edward D. Hoch, author of the Nick Velvet series

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