Classic Corner Review: The Chinese Orange Mystery – Ellery Queen

Mass Market Paperback
Publisher: Signet (June 7, 1983)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0451123417
ISBN-13: 978-0451123411
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Donald Kirk – Book Publisher, Gem and Stamp Collector.
Ellery Queen – Author and Amateur Detective.
Inspector Richard Queen – Homicide Detective.


A dead body is discovered in the office of Donald Kirk. The man’s clothes are turned backward, as well as all the furnishings in the room. Ellery Queen, a friend of Kirk’s is called in to solve the mystery. To do so Ellery must find the man’s identity, why everything was turned around, and who would want to kill the man.


This was the third mystery I’d read in the Ellery Queen series, and the best one I think so far. The author(s) kept me guessing from page one. One of the great aspects of the beginning of this series (books 1 through 10 I believe) is that when you get to the final reveal, the narrator steps out of the pages and invites the reader to solve the mystery. By that point all the clues necessary have been provided. To date I’ve yet to be able to solve one of these.

The style is the classic mystery style, rather than the thriller style today. It’s actually a format I prefer over the thrillers, though they can be rewarding reading experiences as well.

The characters are pretty one dimensional, which seems to be the drawback to stories such as this. They tend to be rich in story but light in character. The ending while a total shock made complete sense as it was explained, however, there did seem to be some bits of information that I as the reader didn’t seem to be aware of. However, that’s a minor complaint.

Seeing as how this novel was written about 70 or more years ago, I’d say it’s appropriate due to murder being committed for anyone 13 and over. An enjoyable story from a writer that I’m really beginning to grow into liking. I look forward to reading the next novel. Until then, go check this one out, and come back and let us know what you thought about it.

About the Author

Ellery Queen was a pen name created and shared by two cousins, Frederic Dannay (1905–1982) and Manfred B. Lee (1905–1971), as well as the name of their most famous detective. Born in Brooklyn, they spent forty-two years writing, editing, and anthologizing under the name, gaining a reputation as the foremost American authors of the Golden Age “fair play” mystery. Although eventually famous on television and radio, Queen’s first appearance came in 1928, when the cousins won a mystery-writing contest with the book that would eventually be published as The Roman Hat Mystery.

Their character was an amateur detective who uses his spare time to assist his police inspector uncle in solving baffling crimes. Besides writing the Queen novels, Dannay and Lee cofounded Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, one of the most influential crime publications of all time. Although Dannay outlived his cousin by nine years, he retired Queen upon Lee’s death.

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One Response to “Classic Corner Review: The Chinese Orange Mystery – Ellery Queen”

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