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The Chinese Orange Mystery: 09/10/08

Over the summer while Sean was taking his swim lessons I read through three Ellery Queen mysteries: The Penthouse Mystery, The Chinese Orange Mystery and The Dutch Shoe Mystery.

Both The Penthouse Mystery and The Chinese Orange Mystery cover the clashes and misunderstandings between American and Chinese cultures. Although the overall set up of The Chinese Orange Mystery (1934) is more challenging than The Penthouse Mystery (1941), Ellery Queen is far more ignorant of Chinese culture than he is in the later novel.

The set up is this: a John Doe is found murdered in a private office in the Hotel Chancellor. His clothing has been removed and put on backwards and all the furnishings in the room have been turned around too. How can inspector Richard Queen with the help of his son, Ellery, solve the murder if they don't know his identity?

What bothered me most was the implication early on in the novel that the backwardness of the crime scene was a message to imply the backwardness of Chinese culture. Ellery Queen is usually more worldly than this. Thankfully though he does realize the error of his ways. Although the dead man is tied to China, the reason behind his murder is far more interesting than what Ellery Queen first implies.

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Saturday, September, 13, 2008 at 03:21:03

Carrie, Reading to Know

Just the book cover is intriguing and nostalgic. I love it.

Thanks for the notes on this one. "

Comment #2: Saturday, September 13, 2008 at 19:35:30

Pussreboots says:

I'm glad you enjoyed the review. The old Ellery Queen mysteries are fun to read if you can find them.

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