cover image The Chinese Orange Mystery

The Chinese Orange Mystery

Ellery Queen. Penzler, $15.95 trade paper (264p) ISBN 978-1-61316-106-7

One of the most bizarre puzzles in crime fiction distinguishes this mystery, first published in 1934, from Queen, the pseudonym for Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee, as well as the name of their gifted amateur sleuth. 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. If this creates a new audience for a genre giant, Penzler, editor of the American Mystery Classics series, will have done yet another service for whodunit lovers. (Oct.)