Lover of the Fancy

Early C20th American culture and dissent

The Chinese Orange Mystery
Ellery Queen


The offices of foreign literature publisher and renowned stamp collector Donald Kirk are often host to strange activities, but the most recent occurrence is unlike any that have come before. Some time after an unknown caller is sent into the anteroom to wait for the return of Mr. Kirk, he is discovered dead on the floor. Nobody, it seems, entered or exited the room, and yet the crime scene clearly has been manipulated: everything in the room–including the furniture, the picture frames, and even the man’s clothing–has been turned backwards and upside down. Stuck through the back of the corpse’s shirt are two long spears and a tangerine is missing from the fruit bowl. Enter master detective Ellery Queen who, coincidentally, was invited for a banquet at the offices, arriving just in time to witness the discovery of the body. In this complex crime, no detail or clue is too minor or too glaring to be considered carefully, and it will require all of Queen’s deductive skills to uncover the culprit.

The Chinese Orange Mystery is an early Ellery Queen novel revered to this day for its challenging conceit and inventive solution. That being said, the book is a “fair-play” mystery in which readers have all the clues needed to solve the crime themselves. In 1981, the novel was selected as one of the top ten locked room mysteries of all time by a panel of mystery-world luminaries.

Paperback, 264pp
Penzler Publishers, 2019 (1934)
ISBN 9781613161067