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An unknown dead man is found in the office of a prosperous publisher. His clothes are on backward, and all of the furniture in the room has been reversed. Ellery Queen continues to uncover "backward" clues--leading him to the identity of this puzzling victim. An unknown dead man is found in the office of a prosperous publisher. His clothes are on backward, and all of the furniture in the room has been reversed. Ellery Queen continues to uncover "backward" clues--leading him to the identity of this puzzling victim.


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An unknown dead man is found in the office of a prosperous publisher. His clothes are on backward, and all of the furniture in the room has been reversed. Ellery Queen continues to uncover "backward" clues--leading him to the identity of this puzzling victim. An unknown dead man is found in the office of a prosperous publisher. His clothes are on backward, and all of the furniture in the room has been reversed. Ellery Queen continues to uncover "backward" clues--leading him to the identity of this puzzling victim.

30 review for The Chinese Orange Mystery

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ginger

    DNF at page 123. I'm going with 1.5 stars on this one because the crime scene was original and had promise. The execution of the clues and writing is what sunk The Chinese Orange Mystery for me. I was hoping that the mystery of the murder would still keep me invested but alas, that is not the case. The plot seems ridiculous and how Ellery Queen is trying to get to the conclusion of the murder seems convoluted. This is the first book that I’ve read by Ellery Queen and it will likely be my last. I jus DNF at page 123. I'm going with 1.5 stars on this one because the crime scene was original and had promise. The execution of the clues and writing is what sunk The Chinese Orange Mystery for me. I was hoping that the mystery of the murder would still keep me invested but alas, that is not the case. The plot seems ridiculous and how Ellery Queen is trying to get to the conclusion of the murder seems convoluted. This is the first book that I’ve read by Ellery Queen and it will likely be my last. I just don’t like his writing for a mystery book. I'm sure I'm in the minority with this. It's just feels off for me. What's the problem you ask? It’s full of sentences in where I’m not quite sure if the character is finished with the thought or if the writer is trying to mislead the reader? Either way, it rambles and not in a good way. I don’t mind reading books that are dated but the writing still needs to be on point to keep my interest. Plus, I don’t like any of the main characters. The main character of Ellery Queen is pompous, shallow and one dimensional. I just can't seem to get into this lazy man of leisure. The Chinese Orange Mystery, I'm sorry for the lack of love but I just don’t care who killed Mr. Nobody from Nowhere after all.

  2. 5 out of 5

    John

    Rich publisher Don Kirk, owner of the Mandarin Press, maintains an extra office next to the suite occupied by the Kirk family in the Hotel Chancellor, for meeting authors and, more importantly, for conducting transactions related to his passionately indulged hobby of stamp collecting. One day a fat little guy arrives and, declining to give his name to Don's assistant, says it's important he should see the man himself. He's put into the adjacent waiting room and essentially forgotten about. An hou Rich publisher Don Kirk, owner of the Mandarin Press, maintains an extra office next to the suite occupied by the Kirk family in the Hotel Chancellor, for meeting authors and, more importantly, for conducting transactions related to his passionately indulged hobby of stamp collecting. One day a fat little guy arrives and, declining to give his name to Don's assistant, says it's important he should see the man himself. He's put into the adjacent waiting room and essentially forgotten about. An hour or so later, after Don's return -- accompanied by his casual friend Ellery Queen -- the door into the waiting room is found to have been bolted from the far side. There is, however, an alternative entrance to the room. When it's opened, everything within is discovered to be in disarray: pictures and furniture and bookcases reversed to face the walls, a fruit bowl inverted, the carpet turned upside-down, and the anonymous man on the floor with his head bashed in. Oddest of all, the dead man's clothes have been removed and then replaced back to front, so that (for example) his shirt buttons run up his spine. In addition, two ceremonial spears have been removed from the wall and run up the man's trouser legs to his shoulders. At moments like this, it's handy to have Ellery Queen as your visitor. Such scenes are all in a day's work for him. As the investigation proceeds, Ellery finds more and more things that are backwards about it -- from (at least in Western eyes) Chinese script to various Chinese social customs -- as well as more and more things related to Chineseness and orangeness, such as a couple of rare misprinted Chinese stamps that happen to be orange . . . and of course the name of Don's publishing house! Then again, Don and his business partner Felix Berne are being visited by the lovely Jo Temple, freshly arrived in NYC from China, whose manuscript -- based on her youth in that country -- Don is keen to publish. Ellery -- with the help of his dad, Inspector Richard Queen, and the redoubtable Sergeant Velie -- unearths a plethora of secrets surrounding the Kirk family, all of which give rise to speculations about possible motives for both the killing and the extraordinary manipulation of the crime scene. Just about all the principals involved had the opportunity. But every hypothesis of Ellery's is doomed to come to naught unless and until the identity of the victim can be discovered: the man's clothes were stripped of all identification and none of the hotels in New York City know of a guest of his description having gone missing. (Hm. There are plenty of "hotels" in NYC who wouldn't tell the cops even if a guest had disappeared. But let's ignore that!) In the end, of course, Ellery manages to nail the murderer and motive, deduce the reason for the "everything backwards" stage management, and work out the modus operandi for the semi-locked room trick. Alas, I wasn't startled by the revelation of the murderer (I got my clue from a bit of very clumsy misdirection early on) and I just couldn't buy into the necessity for the "backwards" staging and the business with the spears; the murderer could have achieved the same subterfuge using far, far less elaborate means. Of course, implausible scenarios are hardly unusual in Golden Age mysteries like The Chinese Orange Mystery (which I kept thinking of as The Clockwork Orange Mystery!), but this one seemed a stretch too far. Aside from that, though, I very much enjoyed the novel. The Queens' style was always immensely fluent and readable, full of witty observations and asides. Ellery himself is still in the process of evolving away from precursors like S.S. Van Dyne's Philo Vance and Jacques Futrelle's Augustus S.F.X. Van Dusen; the latter is directly invoked in the book's Foreword, by the fictitious "J.J. McC.": "Ellery, who is in many ways a thinking machine, is no respecter of friendships when logic points an accusing finger." He still wears a pince nez, is still a bundle of foppish affectations, and once or twice comes out with gratuitous insults and snobberies; but in places, too, he comes across as a human being -- he's definitively responsive to a couple of the women in the cast. He's also aware of the gulf that exists between the style of detective fiction from which he was born and the hardboiled style that was beginning to make itself felt, initially through the pulps and now even in proper hardcovered books: "Shows you that it never pays to use strong-arm methods, father dear. You've been reading too much Hammett. I've always said that if there's one class who should be excluded from the reading of contemporary blood-and-thunder of the so-called realistic school of fiction it's our worthy police force." And again, when a female cast member suggests he might be bought off in the traditional way, he reacts thus: Ellery sighed and hastily retreated a step. "Ah, the Mae West influence. Dear, dear! And I've always said that the Hammetts and the Whitfields are wrong in their demonstrated belief that a detective has countless opportunities for indulging his sex appeal. Another credo blasted . . ." This is by no means my favorite of the Ellery Queens, but it's well worth reading for all that; it's really only the denouement that, I think, lets it down. Certainly I have no regrets for the time I spent reading it.* ======= *In strct point of fact, re-reading it. But, since the last reading must have been at least thirty and probably more like forty years ago, I hardly think it counts! ======= This is a contribution toward Rich Westwood’s “Crimes of the Century” feature on his Past Offences blog. The year chosen for consideration in June 2015 is 1934.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    First, thanks to Otto Penzler, who made this book a part of his new American Mystery Classics series; I am so grateful for his efforts to preserve and to reintroduce readers to the works of great classic mystery authors like Dorothy B. Hughes, Clayton Rawson, Stuart Palmer, Craig Rice, and Mary Roberts Rinehart. Not to mention one of my all-time favorites, Ellery Queen. But. This is a terrible Ellery Queen novel. Early Ellery is snobbish and precious, but often the puzzle and the plot make you fo First, thanks to Otto Penzler, who made this book a part of his new American Mystery Classics series; I am so grateful for his efforts to preserve and to reintroduce readers to the works of great classic mystery authors like Dorothy B. Hughes, Clayton Rawson, Stuart Palmer, Craig Rice, and Mary Roberts Rinehart. Not to mention one of my all-time favorites, Ellery Queen. But. This is a terrible Ellery Queen novel. Early Ellery is snobbish and precious, but often the puzzle and the plot make you forget that. Not here. This book is just ridiculous, with tons of pointless sidetracks, an unbelievable puzzle, and little human interest. I recently reread The Siamese Twin Mystery and was impressed with how good early Queen could be. Again, not here. I hope Mr. Penzler reissues all the rest, and I'll definitely get them all, since this is a handsome edition that looks great on the shelf. In this book's case. you should just leave it there.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Luffy

    In Ellery Queen mysteries, God is in the details. I'm always flabbergasted by the stunt whereby the author tells us that, given we were astute enough, we should solve the mystery logically. That trick never gets tired of. This particular story was lacking in form and quality and decisiveness. The appearance of Ellery Queen at Kirk, then at Sewell's place was odd and jarring. That cost the book one or two stars. The mystery itself is not perfect, as the ubiquitous rope is used to seal the locked In Ellery Queen mysteries, God is in the details. I'm always flabbergasted by the stunt whereby the author tells us that, given we were astute enough, we should solve the mystery logically. That trick never gets tired of. This particular story was lacking in form and quality and decisiveness. The appearance of Ellery Queen at Kirk, then at Sewell's place was odd and jarring. That cost the book one or two stars. The mystery itself is not perfect, as the ubiquitous rope is used to seal the locked room mystery. Been there etc. But even not at their best Ellery Queen remains a formidable writer.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    The name “Ellery Queen” is one of those that I’ve long seen associated with mystery stories yet knew little else about. Was he an author? Was he a character? Imagine my surprise when I discovered he was both! Thanks to a reading group, I finally made the time to read one of the Ellery Queen novels, which proved an interesting experience. Set in New York City in the early 1930s, the story is a classic “locked room” mystery but with a twist: not only is the body found in a locked room, but everythi The name “Ellery Queen” is one of those that I’ve long seen associated with mystery stories yet knew little else about. Was he an author? Was he a character? Imagine my surprise when I discovered he was both! Thanks to a reading group, I finally made the time to read one of the Ellery Queen novels, which proved an interesting experience. Set in New York City in the early 1930s, the story is a classic “locked room” mystery but with a twist: not only is the body found in a locked room, but everything in it has been reversed — including the victim’s clothes! Fortunately one of the people who discovered the body was writer Ellery Queen, who calls his father — an NYPD detective — and is soon pursuing clues and unraveling secrets. The mystery itself is a good one, and the authors give plenty of clues so as to allow readers to work out the solution for themselves. The novel is further strengthened by an interesting cast of characters, nearly all of whom have their hidden secrets and potential motives. Yet I found the lead character himself annoying, as Queen comes across as too smugly arrogant to be very appealing. From the first he exploits his relationship to his father to ensure his involvement, then presumptively drives the investigation into whatever areas suit his fancy. That Queen solves the murder in the end is, of course, to be expected, yet that hardly validates the tactics of a well-connected brat for whom the crime is just another opportunity to show off.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Natalie aka Tannat

    An interesting mystery that gets solved because the murderer just gets too elaborate. I wasn't terribly enamoured of Ellery Queen though. An interesting mystery that gets solved because the murderer just gets too elaborate. I wasn't terribly enamoured of Ellery Queen though.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Christine PNW

    I was unconvinced at the beginning, but it grew on me by the end. I don't think Queen will ever make it into my list of favorites, but I enjoyed it. I was unconvinced at the beginning, but it grew on me by the end. I don't think Queen will ever make it into my list of favorites, but I enjoyed it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bev

    I'll just say it right out--The Chinese Orange Mystery (1944) is the best Ellery Queen novel that I've read yet. I have to take Queen in doses. I grew up with the televised version of Ellery Queen and loved those. On TV Ellery, Inspector Queen, and the policemen at the Inspector's beck and call weren't quite as hard-boiled as they seem to be in the novels. Not that we're talking Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett here--certainly not. Just a bit harder around the edges. I have to be in the righ I'll just say it right out--The Chinese Orange Mystery (1944) is the best Ellery Queen novel that I've read yet. I have to take Queen in doses. I grew up with the televised version of Ellery Queen and loved those. On TV Ellery, Inspector Queen, and the policemen at the Inspector's beck and call weren't quite as hard-boiled as they seem to be in the novels. Not that we're talking Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett here--certainly not. Just a bit harder around the edges. I have to be in the right mood for it. Apparently my mood was just right. Up till now, The Roman Hat Mystery, the first of the Ellery Queen novels, has held pride of place. But this little gem which combines a semi-locked room, a murder of a total unknown, beautiful jewels, rare stamps, and a lunatic old scholar has shoved the Hat firmly aside. Titled The Chinese Orange Mystery, it so easily, as the foreward points out, could have been named The Crime That Was Backwards. From the back of the book: "Turnabout is foul play. There were many odd things about the fat man. No one had seen him enter the luxurious suite and no one knew his name. Somehow all his clothes had been put on him backward, and all the furniture around him reversed. The room in which he was found was locked from the inside, and aside from him, was empty. It was unlike any case Ellery Queen had ever seen--except for two hard facts. The man was dead. And it was Queen's baffling job to find the murderer." There seem to be absolutely no clues available, only confusion. The man came to visit Donald Kirk--publisher and collector of rare gems and even rarer stamps--but refused to state either his name or his business to Kirk's assistant James Osborne. Put in an anteroom to wait for Kirk's arrival, the man is later discovered dead, clothes on backwards and every item in the room reversed--rug upside down, pictures turned to the wall, and even a fruit bowl dumped and the bowl placed over the fruit. No one in the Kirk household or among his friends claim to have seen the man before and there is nothing on the body to identify him. What did he want? Was he a hopeful author? Did he have a gem or a rare stamp for sale? And why did the murderer take the time for reversal? Answer these questions and you just might beat Ellery to the solution. I humbly admit that I did not. Not even close. But that doesn't bother me, I rarely figure out the Ellery Queen mysteries. They are such well-constructed puzzles that I just don't get them. All the clues are there--just as Ellery states in the challenge to the reader. It's never a case where the reader can cry "Unfair!" Every bit of evidence is dangled under your unsuspecting nose and all you have to do is recognize it for what it is and you'd be home and dry. Wonderful period mystery. Lively characters--all well-drawn and with enough secrets and hidden quirks to keep you guessing while you try to puzzle your way to the solution. The motive for the murder wasn't quite as strong as I'd like, although I can see the pyschology behind it. That small quibble gives the book four 1/2 stars out of five, rather than the full five-star rating. I highly recommend this one!

  9. 5 out of 5

    BrokenTune

    The Chinese Orange Mystery by Ellery Queen (1934), was my first taste of American pseudo-author Ellery Queen, who seems to have been renowned for writing mysteries with a leaning towards the hard-boiled police drama. In this story, Ellery Queen, who is also the main character of the series, is called to solve a mystery involving a body found wearing his clothes back to front. I did not enjoy this book at all. Not one bit. At several points, I was tempted to DNF the book, but I only persevered to f The Chinese Orange Mystery by Ellery Queen (1934), was my first taste of American pseudo-author Ellery Queen, who seems to have been renowned for writing mysteries with a leaning towards the hard-boiled police drama. In this story, Ellery Queen, who is also the main character of the series, is called to solve a mystery involving a body found wearing his clothes back to front. I did not enjoy this book at all. Not one bit. At several points, I was tempted to DNF the book, but I only persevered to find out what the solution to the puzzle was. The problems I had with the book were largely the same issues I had with The Hollow Man: it was a work of someone who didn’t just try to be clever but wanted the reader to know at every opportunity how clever the author, or in this case authors, were and how insufficiently clever the reader is. The plot was preposterous from the start, but what made things worse was that the main characters was an annoying brat, whose supporting cast of characters we looked down on by the main characters just as much as the – or rather this – reader was. And all of this was wrapped up in the sort of overly-simplistic narration that reminded me of another book I disliked immensely, Dorothy B. Hughes’ The So Blue Marble. In addition to the issues I had with the characters, plot, pace, and style, the book also included an onslaught of slang and idioms. I don’t mind slang or local / temporal colour at all, but it still has to work in the format, which in this case is the written book. Not a radio programme, not a stage play, it’s textual. We don’t get the benefit of tone of voice or facial expression with the slang and guffaws (in the case of The Hollow Man), and I might have liked both books a little better if we had had that. It annoyed me even more that the characters kept talking in this slang to each other – something I don’t appreciate in any book – without actually saying anything of substance. To me this book was just one long ramble of nothing but stuffing. There was even one scene where even Ellery’s father shouted at him “Talk English, will you?”. I may have laughed out loud. Yeah, sorry, this book did not work for me at all. (This review was originally posted on my blog - https://brokentuneblog.com/2020/10/16... )

  10. 5 out of 5

    Gigi

    While The Chinese Orange Mystery contains an excellent locked-room puzzle, Ellery's character is uncharacteristically irritating as he goes about solving the mystery. I'm glad the book has been reissued and to have read it, but if you're new to Ellery Queen puzzle mysteries, there are much more enjoyable books in the series to start with. While The Chinese Orange Mystery contains an excellent locked-room puzzle, Ellery's character is uncharacteristically irritating as he goes about solving the mystery. I'm glad the book has been reissued and to have read it, but if you're new to Ellery Queen puzzle mysteries, there are much more enjoyable books in the series to start with.

  11. 4 out of 5

    4cats

    A body is found in a locked room, everything including his clothers have been turned backwards. Who is he? What is he doing there? Why was he murdered? Ellery Queen hunts for clues and struggles to find out whodunnit! Of course Ellery also challenges his reader to work out the mystery before he divulges the murderer's identity and reason for committing the crime. A body is found in a locked room, everything including his clothers have been turned backwards. Who is he? What is he doing there? Why was he murdered? Ellery Queen hunts for clues and struggles to find out whodunnit! Of course Ellery also challenges his reader to work out the mystery before he divulges the murderer's identity and reason for committing the crime.

  12. 5 out of 5

    4cats

    A body is found in a locked room, everything including his clothers have been turned backwards. Who is he? What is he doing there? Why was he murdered? Ellery Queen hunts for clues and struggles to find out whodunnit! Of course Ellery also challenges his reader to work out the mystery before he divulges the murderer's identity and reason for committing the crime. Classic detective series, it's a pity all of the Ellery Queen murder series aren't in print around the world. British Library Crime re A body is found in a locked room, everything including his clothers have been turned backwards. Who is he? What is he doing there? Why was he murdered? Ellery Queen hunts for clues and struggles to find out whodunnit! Of course Ellery also challenges his reader to work out the mystery before he divulges the murderer's identity and reason for committing the crime. Classic detective series, it's a pity all of the Ellery Queen murder series aren't in print around the world. British Library Crime readers would love this series.

  13. 5 out of 5

    David Dunlap

    A nondescript gentleman presents himself at the offices of Donald Kirk, book publisher and collector of stamps and gems. He is ushered into the office anteroom to await Kirk's arrival. When the publisher arrives -- with his friend Ellery Queen in tow -- the anteroom door is found locked...and the stranger dead on the floor. The bizarre thing about the murder scene, though, is the fact that everything in the room that could be changed has been turned backwards: the corpse is dressed in his clothe A nondescript gentleman presents himself at the offices of Donald Kirk, book publisher and collector of stamps and gems. He is ushered into the office anteroom to await Kirk's arrival. When the publisher arrives -- with his friend Ellery Queen in tow -- the anteroom door is found locked...and the stranger dead on the floor. The bizarre thing about the murder scene, though, is the fact that everything in the room that could be changed has been turned backwards: the corpse is dressed in his clothes backwards, the carpet has been overturned, bookcases moves away from the walls, etc. The puzzle delights and perplexes Queen, and he sets about helping his police inspector father to solve the crime. While there are no lack of persons with access to the murder room, since the man was unknown to everyone, there seem to be no suspects with motive. And, of course, the room was locked. -- First published in 1934, this mystery -- unlike so many others -- purports to provide the alert reader all the clues he/she might need to solve the crime for him/herself. Although I enjoyed reading the book and meeting the characters and cudgeling my brain for who-dun-it, I must admit: I didn't arrive at the solution. Oh, well...maybe next time?

  14. 4 out of 5

    Deb Jones

    Ellery Queen assists his father, Inspector Queen, of the New York City Police, to investigate a locked room murder with a most unusual twist. It could be argued it is, rather a fantastical twist, but if you can suspend belief on that detail and enjoy the ride of the rest of the story, The Chinese Orange Mystery is an enjoyable read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Judy Lesley

    Thank you to NetGalley and Penzler Publishing for a digital galley of this novel. Otto Penzler is reissuing mystery and detective fiction novels from the Golden Age of crime fiction through his American Mystery Classics series. I was glad to choose The Chinese Orange Mystery by Ellery Queen (actually cousins Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee). This one was originally published in 1934 and is a very good example of the "fair-play" idea used to give readers all the clues they need to solve the cri Thank you to NetGalley and Penzler Publishing for a digital galley of this novel. Otto Penzler is reissuing mystery and detective fiction novels from the Golden Age of crime fiction through his American Mystery Classics series. I was glad to choose The Chinese Orange Mystery by Ellery Queen (actually cousins Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee). This one was originally published in 1934 and is a very good example of the "fair-play" idea used to give readers all the clues they need to solve the crime problem presented in the story. In this one, between chapters 15 and 16, there is a section where the author tells the reader that at that point they could have picked up on all the clues necessary to solve the mystery. I had the "who" (guilty party) but only some pieces of the "why". Even so, I just wallowed in all this old fashioned goodness. The story concerns a dead man found in a room with a door opening into a hotel corridor. The hotel attendant outside in the corridor didn't see anyone enter the room during the time the murder must have been committed. That was bad enough for Inspector Queen and his son, Ellery, but what in the world did all the changes to the room and the corpse mean? Everything, every single thing in the room, was turned backwards. Solving this murder means the Queens have to touch on a lot of sensitive spots for the Kirk family with secrets being uncovered right and left. The Chinese Orange Mystery was a lot of fun to read. Combine this book with a comfortable place to sit, a good drink to satisfy your thirst, a little snack to satisfy your appetite, some quiet time away from "life" and you have the makings of a relaxing indulgence that will have you feeling really good!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    #8 in the Ellery Queen mystery series. This 1934 series entry by Ellery Queen (Cousins Manfred Bennington Lee and Frederic Dannay), the 1961 Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award winner, is my first sampling of the series. The series is noted for each book providing a break after all clues have been exposed to give the reader a chance to solve the mystery. This locked room mystery dis present all relevant clues but I was completely in the dark. I'll try others in the series. Book publishe #8 in the Ellery Queen mystery series. This 1934 series entry by Ellery Queen (Cousins Manfred Bennington Lee and Frederic Dannay), the 1961 Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award winner, is my first sampling of the series. The series is noted for each book providing a break after all clues have been exposed to give the reader a chance to solve the mystery. This locked room mystery dis present all relevant clues but I was completely in the dark. I'll try others in the series. Book publisher Donald Kirk invites Ellery Queen to meet at Manhattan's Hotel Chancellor, where Kirk maintains an office. On their arrival, Kirk learns that a stranger is in his waiting room. Since the door between Kirk's office and the waiting room is locked from the inside, Queen and Kirk must use the door from the corridor to gain access. Inside they find the man bludgeoned to death and wearing all his clothes backwards. Furthermore, all the furniture in the room has been rearranged to face backward, and two African spears have been inserted under the dead man's coat. No one in Kirk's circle has any idea as to the corpse's identity, let alone a motive for the unusual killing. The solution is a perfect, fairly clued match for the setup.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Linden

    Blackmail, chicanery, high-stakes philately, and murder—Ellery Queen must deal with all of these in his latest case. Who is the mysterious dead man, and why are all of his clothes on backwards when his body is discovered? The book was written in 1934, and is one of several from the “golden age” being reprinted as one of the American Mystery Classics. There are some language patterns and stereotyping that mark it as from another era, but anyone who likes Agatha Christie should enjoy this classic Blackmail, chicanery, high-stakes philately, and murder—Ellery Queen must deal with all of these in his latest case. Who is the mysterious dead man, and why are all of his clothes on backwards when his body is discovered? The book was written in 1934, and is one of several from the “golden age” being reprinted as one of the American Mystery Classics. There are some language patterns and stereotyping that mark it as from another era, but anyone who likes Agatha Christie should enjoy this classic locked room mystery.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Vintagebooklvr

    2 1/2 stars. I didn't like this as much as another early Ellery Queen. That was interesting because of the workings of a department store in New York back in the 30s. I should say, rather, I was enjoying this more than the other one because I didn't find Ellergy as annoying in this book. Everything was fine until the explanation at the end. The crime scene was way too complicated. Suspension of disbelief is one thing, but this goes too far. Too easy for so many things to go wrong with this scena 2 1/2 stars. I didn't like this as much as another early Ellery Queen. That was interesting because of the workings of a department store in New York back in the 30s. I should say, rather, I was enjoying this more than the other one because I didn't find Ellergy as annoying in this book. Everything was fine until the explanation at the end. The crime scene was way too complicated. Suspension of disbelief is one thing, but this goes too far. Too easy for so many things to go wrong with this scenario.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    This was my first first reading of an Ellery Queen mystery besides watching the series on TV years ago. I thought this an interesting mystery, although maybe a bit convoluted. But I guess that's how a mystery should be? I really had no idea how it happened and it left me guessing until the absolute end. I don't know that I found anything remarkable about it except that it was a good locked room mystery. I found the first half interesting, and then I lost interest for a bit after that until they This was my first first reading of an Ellery Queen mystery besides watching the series on TV years ago. I thought this an interesting mystery, although maybe a bit convoluted. But I guess that's how a mystery should be? I really had no idea how it happened and it left me guessing until the absolute end. I don't know that I found anything remarkable about it except that it was a good locked room mystery. I found the first half interesting, and then I lost interest for a bit after that until they started narrowing down suspects, etc.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    An interesting NYC Gilded Age murder mystery with effete amateur detective Ellery Queen. Blackmail, gems, romance, stamp collecting, its got it all! Considered both a fair game and locked room mystery, the reader is given all of the clues to solve the case, although this does not necessarily make it easy to do so. Some bits strain the imagination, but overall it was good fun.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    Needing to read a “locked room “ mystery for one of my book clubs, I pulled this off my shelf. I think I got it from my parents house because it was published in 1934 and a first edition. I’ve read a few Ellery Queen novels and stories so I was familiar with the characters: Ellery, his father Inspector Queen, “houseboy” Djuna and Sergeant Velie. Those seem to be constants in his stories. Surprisingly, the book isn’t as dated as one might think. Ellery is a bit of a pompous twit(which later books Needing to read a “locked room “ mystery for one of my book clubs, I pulled this off my shelf. I think I got it from my parents house because it was published in 1934 and a first edition. I’ve read a few Ellery Queen novels and stories so I was familiar with the characters: Ellery, his father Inspector Queen, “houseboy” Djuna and Sergeant Velie. Those seem to be constants in his stories. Surprisingly, the book isn’t as dated as one might think. Ellery is a bit of a pompous twit(which later books don’t really show), but the mystery is good, not particularly sexist or racist, though fairly classist. A device which I recalled when it happened was the “challenge to the reader “ where the author says “you’ve got all the information you need to solve it, but can you?” I couldn’t. I’d recommend a later one of the many, simply for the dated quality, but this wasn’t bad.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    I read this when I was back in high school and it made enough of an impression that I remembered whodunit. I read a lot of Ellery Queen back in the day, but I also knew that the character mellowed out as the series continued. This was an early adventure so Ellery was pretty condescending at times. The plot is classic locked room mystery, and well executed, though at the expense of characterization at times. Still, good for anyone who likes the Golden Age of mysteries.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    COUNTDOWN: Mid-20th Century North American Crime BOOK 227 (of 250) When someone speaks of a 'gay agenda' I go back to an old joke about how, if you live in a gay neighborhood, the only crime you need worry about is someone rearranging your furniture. Here, in "Chinese Orange Mystery", someone rearranges office furniture, but puts everything back either backwards or upside down. I immediately deducted that the murderer was straight, and I was right! (Well, maybe she/he is bisexual, whose to say?) H COUNTDOWN: Mid-20th Century North American Crime BOOK 227 (of 250) When someone speaks of a 'gay agenda' I go back to an old joke about how, if you live in a gay neighborhood, the only crime you need worry about is someone rearranging your furniture. Here, in "Chinese Orange Mystery", someone rearranges office furniture, but puts everything back either backwards or upside down. I immediately deducted that the murderer was straight, and I was right! (Well, maybe she/he is bisexual, whose to say?) HOOK - 2 stars: >>>Miss Diversey fled Dr. Kirk's study followed by a blistering mouthful of ogrish growls. She stood still in the corridor...She could hear the angry septuagenarian...in a fantastic potpourris of ancient Hebrew, classic Greek, French, and English.<<Not much happens for about 25 pages, no indication of a crime/nothing. One might guess at various emotions and possibilities, but Queen seems lazy to get to the point. PACE - 2 stars: When we finally get to the crime, there is much about stamps, "oriental lore", ladies fainting, etc. Even the final reveal feels slow and eventually the entire plot comes crumbling down: it's stupendously unbelievable. PLOT - 1 star. Good grief. This ENTIRE story revolves around bolting a door from the inside. And that's been done in many short stories. Yes, there is a dead man with his clothing on backwards, that's interesting. But I just didn't believe any of it. I didn't believe the murderer would have had enough time to take a man's clothing off, put it on backwards, turn all the furniture over, etc. And at one point, the dead man has his clothes speared, bottom to top, by 2 African spears so that the man will be placed upright, the spears extending down past his shoes. Now, given the man is on the heavy side, I don't think for a second it's possible for 1 person to have done that, got the spears up inside the clothes, then elevated the corpse. And why do all that? Why not just have a chat and get it all over with. CAST - 2: Since I didn't believe the plot, I didn't believe the cast, and was surprised the Queens believed all this could really happen. ATMOSPHERE - 3: Okay, cool: furniture backwards. Clothing backwards. I learned much about stamps! SUMMARY: 2.0. This is a shade better than "Dutch Shoe Mystery" which was just cold and senseless. I did learn a lot about stamps, and it was interesting until the reveal, when it all falls apart. The person who pulled this stunt/murder must be a genius and a circus strongman. BUT, he could have got what he wanted by just calling the guy and said, "Meet me at midnight at the graveyard", or even, "let's have a beer and talk". Actually, there was really no need for a crime, as a certain deal, beneficial to all, could have been made! This kind of book is what gives good 'who-done-its' a bad name. Why do it at all? Why not just make a business deal and then...then there would have been no book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    A satisfying locked room puzzle. I’m glad to have seen the reruns of the old television show as I pictured the actors speaking the dialogue and acting out the scenes. While I think that helped me understand the solution, some of the details still escaped me!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    Like a 3.5, actually, but we don't have that capability. Originally penned in 1934, The Chinese Orange Mystery is set in New York, at the high-priced ($10/day!) Chancellor Hotel. There Donald Kirk and his family have pretty much the entire floor, between suites for business (publishing, stamps and jewelry) and living space. The corridor of this floor is watched over by Mrs. Shane, who sees everyone who enters the floor. But she saw no one on the floor when a man waiting in an office for Kirk was Like a 3.5, actually, but we don't have that capability. Originally penned in 1934, The Chinese Orange Mystery is set in New York, at the high-priced ($10/day!) Chancellor Hotel. There Donald Kirk and his family have pretty much the entire floor, between suites for business (publishing, stamps and jewelry) and living space. The corridor of this floor is watched over by Mrs. Shane, who sees everyone who enters the floor. But she saw no one on the floor when a man waiting in an office for Kirk was murdered. The only way out of that room was either through another office, belonging to Kirk's assistant Osborne (who was there the entire time), or through the hall. But the door between the office and where the man was waiting was bolted from the inside. Not only was anyone seen leaving, but when Ellery Queen arrives, and finds the body, he notices that all of the clothes are on the man backwards -- and all of the furniture has been moved as well. The only clue that Queen can readily put his hands on is that a tangerine (a Chinese Orange) has been eaten -- with orange peels and seeds left out in plain view. With the help of his father, a police inspector, Queen must get to the bottom of the mystery to help his friend Donald Kirk. This book was a bit on the unbelievable side but I suppose all "locked-room/impossible crime" type books have to be in a way. The solution to this one was a bit over the top. So if you want something wholly credible, this may not be the book for you. Otherwise, the characters (except for Ellery, of course, and maybe his dad) kind of stayed a bit underdeveloped (considering it was the 8th book in the series you'd think the authors would have known better), and the whole mystery is plot, rather than character driven. Overall, it wasn't a bad read (I'm giving it what I consider an average rating), and I'd recommend it to people who like Ellery Queen novels, or to those who like impossible crime stories. Anyone who likes strange mysteries might enjoy this as well.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Moray Teale

    I am a huge fan of traditional mysteries, where the puzzle is more important than the actual crime. Add in an eccentric and preferably amateur detective and I’m usually hooked. Not so here. This was my first Ellery Queen story but it could well be the last. I found the writing style infuriating, in prose and dialogue there was an abundance of broken sentences and far too many ellipsis as though neither the characters nor the writer(s) were capable to finishing a thought or a sentence. The story i I am a huge fan of traditional mysteries, where the puzzle is more important than the actual crime. Add in an eccentric and preferably amateur detective and I’m usually hooked. Not so here. This was my first Ellery Queen story but it could well be the last. I found the writing style infuriating, in prose and dialogue there was an abundance of broken sentences and far too many ellipsis as though neither the characters nor the writer(s) were capable to finishing a thought or a sentence. The story itself is irritatingly gimmicky. All of the theatrical complications were frankly ridiculous and I found them less entertaining than infuriating. It may be considered one of the best locked-room mysteries but I almost put it down with only a few pages of exposition to go, simply because I couldn’t bring myself to care. The balance between complication and convincing puzzle is simply off. It wasn’t difficult to work out who the murderer was but the how and the why were horribly contrived. The constant references to the old, tired ideas of the exotic, esoteric East were deeply trying. Ellery’s irascible Police Inspector father was a welcome foil to all the showboating and folderol (and I normally like this feature on my mysteries!) and his men offered most of the more believable deductions. At one point he bemoans his son’s unlikely theorising, declaring “I give up. Go the whole hog. Go puzzlin’ your brains about Chinese oranges and Mexican tamales and alligator pears and Spanish onions and English muffins, for all I care! All I say is—can’t a man eat an orange without some crackpot like you reading a mystery into it?” I can’t help but agree. I did however enjoy the interactions between father and son.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Ellery Queen ponders why everything in the murder room is turned backwards, including the victim's clothes. And there is an eaten tangerine on the desk. Ellery Queen ponders why everything in the murder room is turned backwards, including the victim's clothes. And there is an eaten tangerine on the desk.

  28. 5 out of 5

    John M

    I was rather disappointed with this book. The characters were really two dimensional. The plot did not have a lot of gusto. The twists in the mystery felt really strained and completely disjointed. Overall, not a really good book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Dark

    Ellery Queen solves another mysterious murder, and smokes a lot of cigarets (spelling intentional).

  30. 5 out of 5

    Regine

    Dated.

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