The Chinese Orange Mystery

   A Graph Review:    55 with  highpoint 70

 My copy is Victor Gollancz, hardback, 8th impression of 1949, first published 1934.    auhor: Ellery Queen

 Another period piece by a classic, highly successful crime writer when the interest and sales volumes were massive:  The American style and New York setting is fine, most of it taking place in the Chancellor Hotel where the crime scene and locale of the floor in the hotel is carefully detailed, even with a floor-plan.  Another ‘open’ scene is at Grand Central Station but otherwise few observations of settings except where relevant to the specifics of the character, i.e. Ellery lounging in his chair!

As always, good character drawing on their introduction to the story and small additional elements where needed throughout to develop them as their involvement, in or out, comes into play.

I don’t like to offer plot lines, suffice to say several actual and potential evolve while Ellery and father  search, in this case worldwide, for the answer to a single murder of a stranger.

Early in the book we read of a tangerine, three in fact, maybe known as  a chinese orange and the story prods at this numerous times as coincedences follow.

No surprise it is a bit dated but as a storyline, characterisation and typical denouement it is a good read.  A lot of the development is through conversation with  outcomes adding to the possibilities. I also like the procedural, albeit undetailed, activity that is included. Ellery’s father is a police inspector busily involved in the case with his son and  ‘all bases are covered’,  as it were, with his detectives following all methods of enquiry from door-knocking to contacting international police and others.  All methods produced snippets of information to be considered for use or discarding.  Overall a good impression of the life and times of New York. (Right or wrong, I don’t know)

Of course the point of the book is to disentangle motives and methods from clues laid out, as Ellery points out late in the book.  Finally he puts the jigsaw together for the sake of the suspects and of course the police.

Not a current, global success like Agatha Christie with Poirot and Marple or the continuing Sherlock Holmes sagas but a refreshing read of a slightly later period with a nice American slant of style and touch of humour in the language.  Well worth a read if you have not yet discovered Ellery Queen or find time to re-visit. Nostalgia is good in small doses….

I hate to think when I last read an EQ title but I remember I enjoyed them and do again.  I reckon to pick up the odd one as I do my travels……

This book was bought ‘used’ from the EMMAUS shop  in Cambridge but may still be available in some form.  For any available Ellery Queen, or any other ‘crime’ for that matter try visiting or contacting Heffers in Cambridge  they carry a superb range in their fiction department.

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