click on cover to go back

The Chinese Orange Mystery (1934)

Inspector Richard Queen wanted to know the identity of the murdered man. How could he solve a murder mystery without knowing who was murdered? The body was found in a private room of the Hotel Chancellor; no one connected with the investigation had ever seen the man before. His name, where he came from, why he was there, remain a mystery to the end. Yet all who were enmeshed in the web of the tragedy found their lives changed by the death of the nameless nobody.
But even more baffling was the amazing scene of the crime. Everything had been turned backwards: the victim's clothing had been turned backwards, the rug was upside down, the pictures were facing the wall. And what was the explanation of the ramrods stuck up the victim's back?

A puzzling publishing murder attracts the eye of Ellery Queen.

Mandarin Press is a premier publishing house for foreign literature, but to those at the top of this enterprise, there is little more beautiful than a rare stamp. As Donald Kirk, publisher and philatelist, prepares his office for a banquet, an unfamiliar man comes to call. No one recognizes him, but Kirk’s staff is used to strange characters visiting their boss, so Kirk’s secretary asks him to wait in the anteroom. Within an hour the mysterious visitor is dead on the floor, head bashed in with a fireplace poker, and everything in the anteroom has been quite literally turned upside down. The rug is backwards; the furniture is backwards; even the dead man’s clothes have been put on front-to-back. As debonair detective Ellery Queen pries into the secrets of Mandarin Press, every clue he finds is topsy-turvy. The great sleuth must tread lightly, for walking backwards is a surefire way to step off a cliff.

The Chinese Orange Mystery - Cover Mercury Mysteries, Mercury Books, 1935The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover of Reader's League of America-Armed Services Edtion, No Number, circa 1942-43. Cover art appears to be by Hoffman or is similar. The volume bears the Pocket Book emblem, and mimics the Pocket Book format of the time.The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover Pocket Books (Hoffman Art).The Chinese Orange Mystery - coverThe Chinese Orange Mystery - cover international edition in English, The AlbatrossThe Chinese Orange Mystery - cover
The Chinese Orange Mystery - 50th Ann.Edition Signet Books #451-E8759The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover SignetThe Chinese Orange Mystery - Cover Penguin BooksThe Chinese Orange Mystery - cover eBook edition MysteriousPress.com/Open Road, February 5, 2013The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover audiobook Blackstone Audio, Inc., read by Richard Waterhouse, November 1. 2013

"The Chinese Orange Mystery (1934) has one of EQ's most baroque and inventive puzzles. It is none too realistic, and the storytelling sags badly between the murder and its solution, but its finale shows the tremendous imagination of the Golden Age mystery tale. It is similar to The Dutch Shoe Mystery in that it depends on a floor plan, but is even better as a complex plot. In some ways, it is the fulfillment of the promise of that early novel, one that blossoms out into Issue of Redbook from June, 1934 with the complete book-size novel "The Chinese Orange Murder" full-fledged surrealism and splendor. Both books seem Chestertonian. Maybe this book is the most John Dickson Carr like of Queen's novels, and it is regarded as an experiment by its author in writing a "John Dickson Carr book". However, a comparison of the dates suggests that it was written before Carr became "himself", and if there were influence here it would be in the other direction. The technique of the book is closely related to the "impossible crime", although EQ does not actually use it to create an impossible crime situation in the novel. Despite this, many historians of the locked room story seem to (falsely) remember it as a "locked room" book; it appeared on the poll of the top ten impossible crime books, for example, conducted by Edward D. Hoch for the Mystery Writers of America. This false memory is a remarkable case of collective amnesia. On a deeper level, the mystery writers who told Hoch that it was one of their favorite locked room stories were essentially right: it does come straight out of the impossible crime tradition. (Michael E.Grost)

The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover edition Gollancz, LondonThe Chinese Orange Mystery - cover edition Gollancz, London, 1949The Chinese Orange Mystery - coverThe Chinese Orange Mystery - cover reprint September 1941The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover Triangle Books, Blakiston,1945
The Chinese Orange Mystery - Grosset & Dunlap - 1934The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover Frederick Stokes, 1934The Chinese Orange Mystery - Hardcover Triangle reprint 1942The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover International Readers LeagueThe Chinese Orange Mystery - audiobook performed by Michael Prichard on 8 cassettes (8 hours)

The nurse is named Diversey ; one wonders if this is in homage to MacKinlay Kantor's first novel, Diversey (1928). Hammett is also mentioned by name in this book. The suspects named Macgowan (with a small g) could be a  reference to Kenneth Macgowan (as in The Origin of Evil), who edited the anthology Sleuths (1931)." (Michael E.Grost)
In 'The Hollow Man' Anthony Boucher put a reference to the master concerning the 'Chinese Orange Mystery' that "Ellery Queen has shown us still another method [of tampering with bolts], entailing the use of the dead man himself -- but a bald statement of this, taken out of its context, would sound so wild as to be unfair to that brilliant gentleman."

Ellery again with pince-nez, bachelor who has his own view on marriage. He smokes cigarettes and uses an wooden stick. No mention of the Duesenberg.
Richard studied in Heidelberg, he used to be captain in an outside N.Y. district. He solved a case in 41 St. where cocaine-pusher Dippy Mc Guire got a bullet in the belly.
Djuna and Dr.Prouty (with a cigar) reappear. The NYPD is represented by Ritter, Hesse, Pigott, Johnson and sergeant Velie.
The story is set during one week in N.Y. where Donald Kirk is beaten to death in the Chancellor hotel.
There is a challenge for the reader present and in it Ellery apologizes about having nearly forgotten a challenge to the reader in the last book and to have 'forgotten' it in the previous book as well. (There was no challenge in The Siamese Twin Mystery
)

 


Moord Achterstevoren - cover Dutch edition, Servire Moord Achterstevoren - coverMoord Achterstevoren - coverMoord Achterstevoren - cover reprint Van toen.nu, September 2008Le Mysterieux Monsieur X -  French cover ed. Albin Michel Le Limier, 1951L'Orange de Chine - French edition J'ai lu P39, 1965Le Mysterieux Monsieur X  - French cover ed. j'ai Lu N°1918 in the Policier collection, 1986
Le Mysterieux Monsieur X - French cover ed.J'ai Lu  Nr 1918 in the Polar collection, 1994Das Ratsel der chinesischen Mandarine - cover Ullstein KrimiChinesische Mandarinen - German cover Kriminal Roman. Published by Wilhelm Goldmann Verlag 1951Chinesische Mandarinen - German cover Kriminal Roman. Published by Wilhelm Goldmann Verlag 1961Delitto alla Rovescia - cover Italian editionDelitto alla Rovescia - cover Italian edition, Collana Dei Capolavori Dei  Gialli Mondadori Nr 220, 1963Delitto alla Rovescia - cover Italian edition I Classici del Giallo Mondadori, Nr 398, April 27.1982

The Chinese Orange Mystery Translations: 
Brazilian: O misterio da laranja Chinez
(aka O misterio da Tangerina) 
Czech: Záhada čínského pomeranče 
(aka Záhadný návštěvník) 
Danish: Mordet i Hotel Chancellor (aka Mord og mandariner) 
Dutch/Flemish: Moord Achterstevoren 
Finnish: Kiinalaisen appelsiinin arvoitus 
French: Le Mysterieux Monsieur X (aka L'Orange de Chine) 
German: Chinesische Mandarinen 
(aka Das Ratsel der chinesischen Mandarine) 
Greek:  Ο νεκρός τραβάει το σύρτη  
(aka Ο Νεκρός Τραβάει Το Σύρτη)  
Hungarian: A mandarin bűnügy  
Italian: Il delitto alla Rovescia (aka Delitto Alla Rovescia) 
Japanese: チャイナ橙の謎 (cyainadaidainonazo) 
Korean: 중국 오렌지 미스터리 
Mexican: El Misterio de la Naranja China 
Portuguese: O misterio da laranja Chinesa 
Romanian: Misteriosul Domn "X" 
Russian: Тайна китайского апельсина (Taina kitaiskogo mandarina) 
Spanish: El misterio de la mandarina 
Swedish: Mandarinmysteriet 
Turkish: Çin portakalı 

Il delitto alla Rovescia - cover Italian edition, Giallo Mondadori Nr 14, 1985Il delitto alla Rovescia - cover Italian edition Collana Oscar Gialli, Nr 113, 1988Il delitto alla Rovescia - cover Italian edition 2005O misterio da Tangerina - cover Brazilian edition Coleçao Amarela  Livraria do globo vol.132, 1948El misterio de la mandarina - cover Argentinian edition, Oro Amarilla Molino, 1936El misterio de la mandarina - cover Argentinian edition, Oro, June 19. 1940
El Misterio De La Naranja China - cover Spanish edition printed in Chili, Coleccion "La Linterna", Zig-Zag, 1945El misterio de la mandarina - cover Spanish edition, Selecciones biblioteca oro, 1952El misterio de la mandarina - cover Spanish edition Picazo editors, Barcelona, Coleccion Polismen, 1980El misterio de la mandarina - cover Spanish edition, Selecciones biblioteca oro Nr 72El Misterio De La Naranja China - Printed in Mexico in Spanish, colleccion CaimanEl Misterio De La Naranja China - Printed in Mexico in Spanish, Editorial Diana, 1971
Ο νεκρός τραβάει το σύρτη - Cover Greek edition Athens, Paperback Atlantis,  Pechlivanidis & Co, 1955Záhadný návštěvník - Cover Czech edition, 1935Záhadný návštěvník - Cover Czech edition, 1950Záhada čínského pomeranče - Czech edition, 1992, AmetystZáhada čínského pomeranče - Czech edition, 2011, Naše vojskoA mandarin bűnügy - Cover Hungarian edition, Budapest, 1990
Mord og mandariner - Cover Danish edition, LademannMord og mandariner - cover Danish edition, 2015, Rosenkilde BahnhofMandarinmysteriet - cover Swedish edition, Bonniers, 1938Çin portakalı - cover Turkish edition, 1968O misterio da laranja Chineza - cover Brazilian edition, Vampiro Nr.2
Kiinalaisen appelsiinin arvoitus - Finnish edition Book studio nr 42, 1990
ТАЙНА КИТАЙСКОГО АПЕЛЬСИНА - Cover Russian edition, 2004 (together with The Egyptian Cross Mystery)The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Arakisha, 1950The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover Japanese edition, June 1958The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Tokyo Sogensha, February 1. 1961The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Tokyo Sogensha (full cover), June 1970The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Kadokawa Bunko, October 1970, 10th PrintingThe Chinese Orange Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Hayakawa Pocket Mystery Book
The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Hakusuisha publishingThe Chinese Orange Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Tokyo Sogensha, 1979The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Hayakawa Publishing, June 1980The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Tokyo Sogensha, Somoto Reasoning Paperback, 1990The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover Japanese edition, Kadokawa Bunko, July 15. 2011The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover Japanese edition, January 2015,  Kadokawa Shoten
The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover Chinese edition, New Star Press, June 2008The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover Chinese edition, New Star Press, March 2013The Chinese Orange Mystery - cover Taiwanese editionThe Chinese Orange Mystery - cover Taiwanese edition, December 27. 2004중국 오렌지 미스터리 (The Chinese Orange Mystery) - cover South-Korean edition, Sigma Books, Oct 1. 1994중국 오렌지 미스터리 (The Chinese Orange Mystery) - cover South-Korean edition, Dongsuh Mystery Books, 검은숲, May 1. 2003중국 오렌지 미스터리 (The Chinese Orange Mystery) - cover South-Korean edition,  검은숲, Ellery Queen Collection, Jul 2. 2012
 

previous indepth review... b a c k   t o  Q  B  I next indepth review...


Copyright © MCMXCIX-MMXVII   Ellery Queen, a website on deduction. All rights reserved.