Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Chinese Orange Mystery” as Want to Read:
The Chinese Orange Mystery
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Chinese Orange Mystery (Ellery Queen Detective #8)

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  485 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
An unknown dead man is found in the office of a prosperous publisher. His clothes are on backward, and all of the furniture in the room has been reversed. Ellery Queen continues to uncover "backward" clues--leading him to the identity of this puzzling victim.
Published July 3rd 1979 by Signet (first published January 1st 1934)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Chinese Orange Mystery, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Chinese Orange Mystery

The Westing Game by Ellen RaskinAnd Then There Were None by Peter ForemanEncyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald J. SobolThe Roman Hat Mystery by Ellery QueenCasebook of the Black Widowers by Isaac Asimov
Solve-it-yourself Mysteries- All Ages
6th out of 54 books — 20 voters
The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha ChristieLost Horizon by James HiltonWake Up and Live! by Dorothea BrandeFive Great Tragedies by William ShakespeareTopper by Thorne Smith
List of Pocket Books 1
16th out of 54 books — 2 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 818)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jun 14, 2015 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rich publisher Don Kirk, owner of the Mandarin Press, maintains an extra office next to the suite occupied by the Kirk family in the Hotel Chancellor, for meeting authors and, more importantly, for conducting transactions related to his passionately indulged hobby of stamp collecting. One day a fat little guy arrives and, declining to give his name to Don's assistant, says it's important he should see the man himself. He's put into the adjacent waiting room and essentially forgotten about.

An hou
Mar 05, 2011 Bev rated it really liked it
Shelves: vintage-mystery
I'll just say it right out--The Chinese Orange Mystery (1944) is the best Ellery Queen novel that I've read yet. I have to take Queen in doses. I grew up with the televised version of Ellery Queen and loved those. On TV Ellery, Inspector Queen, and the policemen at the Inspector's beck and call weren't quite as hard-boiled as they seem to be in the novels. Not that we're talking Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett here--certainly not. Just a bit harder around the edges. I have to be in the righ ...more
Feb 18, 2014 Luffy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Ellery Queen mysteries, God is in the details. I'm always flabbergasted by the stunt whereby the author tells us that, given we were astute enough, we should solve the mystery logically. That trick never gets tired of. This particular story was lacking in form and quality and decisiveness. The appearance of Ellery Queen at Kirk, then at Sewell's place was odd and jarring. That cost the book one or two stars. The mystery itself is not perfect, as the ubiquitous rope is used to seal the locked ...more
Mar 19, 2014 Erin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As a book in the contemporary market, it really rates a 2, but it was probably well received back in the day. It reminds me of 30's films like "Murder on a Honeymoon"-- actually I think Edward Gleason would have played Inspector Queen. In many of those films I'm convinced that the script writers invented weird slang on the spot to make their "noir" investigators sound tough. That's how the dialogue in this novel sounded too. Queen the elder throws around many "damns" along with "cripes" & ot ...more
It's almost a sacrilege that as a confirmed mystery reader, I have never before read an Ellery Queen title. This little gem from 1934, the eighth of the EQ mysteries, is considered by many to be one of the best locked room mysteries of all time. It has all the hallmarks of the classic puzzle mystery with the ends all neatly tied up, even very arcane clues explained. The unique feature of a "Queen" mystery is that close to the end, Ellery "breaks the fourth wall" by interjecting a challenge to re ...more
Mar 11, 2014 Ross rated it did not like it
Audiobook version. Needed an audiobook in a hurry for my workout session and downloaded this from the "Always Available" section at my library. Gave up after some 30 minutes on the treadmill with not one but two mysteries. First, the antique text was really annoying with remarks like "pshaw" and "by Jove Queen my old boy." Even given that people once did speak like this, the first mystery was after 30 minutes, no mystery had appeared in the story. The second and bigger mystery was that people on ...more
Dec 30, 2015 Peggy rated it really liked it
I listened to this audiobook. This is a classic locked room murder mystery. A man comes to the office of a well known stamp and jewel collector. He is mysterious and will not tell the assistant his name nor his business. He is waiting in a small ante room. But when they go to get the man they find the door to the ante room locked from the inside. When they enter through another doorway the find the man dead with all his clothes on backwards. All the objects in the room are also backwards-bookcas ...more
Invited to come early to a dinner party, Ellery Queen walks instead into a bizarre crime scene where everything, from the clothes on the victim's back to the book cases in the room, is backward. Not only that, no one involved in the case seems to know who this victim is. It takes some time for Ellery to figure all of this out, as well as why two spears were added to the victims clothes, making it look like he had giant horns.

The solution was a bit convoluted and I'm still not sure I understood,
Nancy Oakes
Apr 07, 2009 Nancy Oakes rated it liked it
Like a 3.5, actually, but we don't have that capability.

Originally penned in 1934, The Chinese Orange Mystery is set in New York, at the high-priced ($10/day!) Chancellor Hotel. There Donald Kirk and his family have pretty much the entire floor, between suites for business (publishing, stamps and jewelry) and living space. The corridor of this floor is watched over by Mrs. Shane, who sees everyone who enters the floor. But she saw no one on the floor when a man waiting in an office for Kirk was
Jul 04, 2013 Jeff rated it it was ok
The Chinese Orange Mystery (1934) is by “Ellery Queen,“ (Manfred Lee and Frederic Dannay).

Ellery Queen, then, is the nominal author and the main sleuth, and he’s a famous mystery writer in his books, and writes about his own cases, but always writes about himself in the third person. This is a classic “locked room” mystery in the John Dickson Carr mold. I tried to follow it, and I did in fact have a vague idea of who the killer probably was, but the whole thing is rather improbable. The main my
Feb 25, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prior to reading this, I had only read one volume of the Ellery Queen short stories. Although I enjoyed those immensely, I wasn't sure if a full-length mystery would be just as good. Sadly, writing mysteries as short stories and full-length mystery novels require different sets of talents.
Ellery Queen did not disappoint, however. In this, his 8th full-length mystery, re-printed recently in an e-book version by Mysterious Press and Open Road Media, Ellery investigates the death of an unknown man
Sarah Sammis
Sep 10, 2008 Sarah Sammis rated it really liked it
Shelves: pc
Over the summer while Sean was taking his swim lessons I read through three Ellery Queen mysteries: The Penthouse Mystery, The Chinese Orange Mystery and The Dutch Shoe Mystery.

Both The Penthouse Mystery and The Chinese Orange Mystery cover the clashes and misunderstandings between American and Chinese cultures. Although the overall set up of The Chinese Orange Mystery (1934) is more challenging than The Penthouse Mystery (1941), Ellery Queen is far more ignorant of Chinese culture than he is i
Dec 09, 2010 Julianne rated it liked it
I read lots of Ellery Queen books years ago, and this month I ended up without any other audiobook, so I listened to this one from my personal collection. I like the Ellery Queen books. There comes a point where you really have to pay attention as he unravels the clues and tells us how the murder was done, and eventually, who did it. With all the possible suspects sitting there in the same room, this makes for some drama, and lots of fun!

This book is about a stamp collector and his friends in NY
Stephen Osborne
Apr 01, 2013 Stephen Osborne rated it really liked it
Here we have a dead body found in a room and everything seems to be backwards. The clothes are on the body wrong way around. The furniture in the room is turned around, the carpet is flipped over, and even the lamps are set lampshade side down. Killers do this sort of thing all the time in real life, right? The solution is convoluted and will leave you going Huh? but the reason for the backwardness of the crime should have been obvious to me, but I didn't catch it. If someone turned in this 1935 ...more
Feb 28, 2013 Giselle rated it liked it
Recommends it for: everyone over the age of 9-10
Recommended to Giselle by: 501 Must-Read Books
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 11, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it
This is the first Ellery Queen mystery I have read. I liked the style which was similar to the classic noir writers, but was not as bleak and gritty. Queen (the character) was a bit of a Sherlock Holmes type. This mystery was a locked-room puzzle with a very limited cast of suspects, but most of them had great potential due to their various secrets. Almost at the end Queen (the author) inserts a challenge telling the reader they have all the info now and asking if they can solve the puzzle. I co ...more
Otto Penzler
Jan 16, 2013 Otto Penzler rated it really liked it
Ellery Queen, the master of the Golden Age mystery, is one of the most important and influential contributors to the mystery genre. The Chinese Orange Mystery is a prime example of the cleverness of the two geniuses behind the pseudonymous Ellery Queen: Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee. Written in 1934, this classic fair-play mystery examines the curious murder of a man in an elegant New York publishing house. In the bizarre murder scene, everything is backwards–the victim’s clothes are on bac ...more
Andrea Caruso
Aug 09, 2013 Andrea Caruso rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dopo aver esaurito tutti i romanzi della Christie con Poirot protagonista, ho deciso di avvicinarmi per la prima volta ad Ellery Queen con questo "Delitto alla rovescia", da molti segnalato come una delle migliori storie di Queen. Sebbene all'inizio i modi spicci e crudi dei Queen -padre e figlio- da poliziotti americani, possano dare un po' fastidio a chi ha sempre avuto a che fare con il garbo, il savoir faire e l'educazione di Poirot, la storia è ottimamente costruita, resa ancora più avvince ...more
Nov 28, 2010 Mmyoung rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery
This is one of Queen’s more formulaic works. Indeed it could be argued to be an urban, American equivalent of the hoary old “English Country house isolated by bad weather” story. An improbably inter-related group of people are drawn together by secrets. Characters withhold facts and information for apparently no other purpose that to obfuscate things. Ellery Queen, the detective, seems to suffer from a strange form of professional amnesia so that obvious clues are overlooked and obvious similari ...more
Jul 14, 2008 Felonious rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who like whodunits
Shelves: middleshelf
This "whodunit" did an excellent job of mixing the bread crumbs with the stones (explanation at the bottom). Which I did not solve until Ellery was explaining it (I did get it before he made it clear though). Written in 1934 the language and the people stereotypes maybe a bit dated for some readers (some of the clues were dated too). Which is my excuse for not solving it. Still a great read for mystery lovers.

Bread crums and stones taken from hansel and gretal (trail leading back to the killer)
Apr 28, 2015 John added it
Shelves: true-mystery
1984 no grade

Audio novel
Feb 05, 2013 Bill rated it it was amazing
OK, mystery fans, figure this one out! Why would a killer murder a guy, then take his clothes off and put them n backwards? And not only this, but turn all the furniture he could around backwards?

Yup, this is one backward mystery, and those two guys writing under the name, Ellery Queen, have put together one almost unsolvable mystery here.

Maybe you will have more luck than I did figuring out the killer – good luck!
Steve Goble
Oct 05, 2012 Steve Goble rated it it was ok
Another enjoyable read, with a bizarre puzzle and several red herrings, that falls flat once Ellery solves the crime and the reader realizes that only an idiot killer would come up with such a risky means of killing someone. The pile of coincidences that lead to all those red herrings is a bit much.

I read a lot of Ellery Queen when I was much younger, and I don't recall them being so convoluted. Sigh.
Aug 26, 2012 Lynn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, lib-bk
After 40+ years, Ellery Queen still presents a classic "whodunnit" with little of the psychological characterization we find in more modern-day mysteries. Published in 1934, it was nice to revisit strictly a detective story. Queen, along with Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh are the classic mystery writers to me...and I still appreciate rereading one every once in awhile!
Jigar Brahmbhatt
Aug 31, 2011 Jigar Brahmbhatt rated it liked it
An ingenious conception of the crime, where not only the dead body but the whole crime scene is altered to divert the attention from that one obvious detail that could give the motive and murderer away. Not plausible, but who cares! I am glad that I owe a dogeared but not totally worn-out copy of this out-of-print classic.
Jan 19, 2013 Kristen rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries, 2013
If you are going to read vintage mystery novels, you must read more than Agatha to be well read. Ellery Queen is a good choice.

This is a twist on the locked room mystery in which everything in the room is turned around backward.

Curious. And fun.
Dec 21, 2015 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really 4.5 stars. I've always liked Queen's "challenge to the reader," but if I live to be one hundred, I would never have figured this one out. This is possibly the best locked room mystery I've ever read. O my goodness.
I thought the solution to this Ellery Queen mystery was far-fetched and not quite believable. I recommend trying another title in the series. I know I will.
Ronald Wilcox
Dec 31, 2013 Ronald Wilcox rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Enjoyable read as are all of Queen's books but the story is a little farfetched this time.
Jan 25, 2009 Derek rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
It really got going, but the key to the mystery was entirely too MacGuyver-esque.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 27 28 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • He Who Whispers (Dr. Gideon Fell, #16)
  • Trial and Error
  • Devil take the Blue-tail Fly
  • The Glass Sided Ant's Nest
  • Hamlet, Revenge! (Sir John Appleby, #2)
  • The Steam Pig
  • The Beast Must Die (Nigel Strangeways, #4)
  • Final Curtain (Roderick Alleyn, #14)
  • The Sleeping Car Murders
  • Quiet as a Nun (Jemima Shore, #1)
  • The Red Box (Nero Wolfe, #4)
  • More Work for the Undertaker (Albert Campion Mystery, #13)
  • The Judas Window (Sir Henry Merrivale, #8)
  • In the Last Analysis (A Kate Fansler Mystery #1)
  • A Pin To See The Peepshow
  • La donna della domenica
  • Malice Aforethought
  • The Case Of The Borrowed Brunette (Perry Mason, #28)
aka Barnaby Ross.

"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 eventual
More about Ellery Queen...

Other Books in the Series

Ellery Queen Detective (1 - 10 of 35 books)
  • The Roman Hat Mystery
  • The French Powder Mystery
  • The Dutch Shoe Mystery
  • The Greek Coffin Mystery
  • The Egyptian Cross Mystery (Ellery Queen #5)
  • American Gun Mystery
  • The Siamese Twin Mystery
  • The Spanish Cape Mystery
  • The Lamp of God
  • Halfway House

Share This Book