The Chinese Orange Mystery by Ellery Queen

 Cover The Chinese orange mystery by Ellery Queen

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Ellery Queens once more helps his father to solve a baffling mystery.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes

For people who: love whodunnits, locked room mysteries

My thoughts: 

I always liked Ellery Queen mysteries. They are the perfect whodunnits with a clever detective, a father/police officer sidekick and a nice atmosphere. The plots are always elaborate and puzzling.

This one is no exception. A body is found in an anteroom and the murderer has left curious clues behind. The dead man has all his clothes on backwards, all furniture, clocks, paintings are turned to the wall, even the fruit bowl is turned upside down. All people involved seem to have a past or a secret to cover up or – at the very least – an obnoxious attitude. 

As usual, Ellery solves the mystery in his own style and leaves everybody speechless. I completely failed the challenge to the reader that you will find in every Ellery Queen mystery. It tells the reader that now he has all the clues and he should be able to figure it out. I didn’t. This mystery is so tied to the time it is set in that no modern reader would deduct the solution from what he knows. Times have changed and what was common and obvious back then is now so extraordinary that it would not come to mind immediately. Once explained it makes sense, though.

A very quick and enjoyable mystery. If you like whodunnits you will love this.

Beware! Spoilers follow:

There are various  things I want to mention for people who don’t mind spoilers. If you do, do not read on!

The story first doesn’t appear to be a locked room mystery, however, when we get the solution it turns out to have been one all along. Unusual!

How the murderer was supposed to have done the crime is unfeasible. Yes, Ellery explains the how and that is plausible, but there was just not the opportunity. The situation is almost a little bit like in Agatha Christie’s “The murder of Roger Ackroyd” where the murderer is the narrator. Here the story is not told from the killer’s point of view but we accompany him during the hour in which the murder takes place and there is just no evidence that he had time to commit the crime. He works in his office and during that time four people come in to talk to him. Are we to believe that he is supposed to have gone next door, bludgeon a man, discover something unexpected, think of a ruse to cover that up, execute it (which includes rearranging all the furniture) and then process with his original complicated plan of bolting the door inside from the outside? Um, no!

The title of the book, by the way, is a MacGuffin. All the time Ellery goes on about the tangerines, aka Chinese oranges, which were available in the anteroom and of which one was eaten, either by the victim or murderer. In reality the tangerines are of no importance at all, the orange refers to something completely different.

Still, a very good mystery and baffling to the extreme.

Movie tip

The Mandarin Mystery (downloadable for free as it is in the public domain). However, I would only watch it for scientific reasons, it is absolute bollocks and does not resemble the book in the least. I am not kidding.

Product info and buy link :

Title The Chinese Orange Mystery
Author Ellery Queen
Publisher Open Road Media
I got this book from the publisher via Netgalley
Buy link Buy The Chinese Orange Mystery from various sources

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.