Appointment With Agatha discussion

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Archive - 2020 side reads > October locked room mystery: Chinese Orange Mystery (spoiler)

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message 1: by Christine PNW, Agathyte (new)

Christine PNW (moonlight_reader) | 917 comments Thread will open 10/1/2020


message 2: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 193 comments One of the main mysteries is not only who was the killer, but who exactly was the victim?


message 3: by Mark (new)

Mark | 55 comments Rosemarie wrote: "One of the main mysteries is not only who was the killer, but who exactly was the victim?"

And one of the things I enjoyed most is how that question drives the establishment of the crime scene. I must confess that I was so involved in the answer to that question that I had forgotten the locked-room nature of it until Queen reveals how Osborne employed the spears at the very end.


message 4: by Brenda (new)

Brenda (gd2brivard) | 120 comments I've just finished. I agree, it was a great mystery in that you didn't know who the victim was until almost the end, and the locked room was quite a good set up. I admit I lost track a bit in the middle, but thought it was interesting as a whole.


message 5: by Mark (new)

Mark | 55 comments Brenda wrote: "I've just finished. I agree, it was a great mystery in that you didn't know who the victim was until almost the end."

I thought the question of the victim's identity was a really interesting touch, especially as even when we learn that he was a priest he still remains nameless at the end of the novel.


message 6: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 140 comments I loved the complexity of the puzzle of the locked room. Very elaborate. I had it down to two suspects in my mind. One male, one female. But as soon as Ellery described how the locked room was done, I knew it had to be male. Such a fun book.


message 7: by Marie (new)

Marie | 43 comments This was my first Ellery Queen novel. I switched back and forth between listening and reading and also rereading certain sections. My thoughts...

Pros:
-The literary allusions (Shakespeare, Carroll, Hammett, etc..) were my favorite aspect. I like catching them and feeling that the work is in conversation with the literary record.
-Setting: New York. I love New York noir and I could feel the energy of the city through the writing.
-All of the different ways things could be "backward" was fascinating, although I still am not sure that I caught WHY Ozzie went that route (I finished it at 2AM last night so I may have missed that in my weariness)

Cons:
-I felt bombarded by the quick introduction of the characters and actually re-read and listened to the first few chapters a couple of times so that I could keep everyone straight.
-It has been a long time sine I have read American detective stories and after reading this following a summer of English mysteries (Christie, Sayers, E. C. Bentley), I think I prefer English, although there is a place and a mood when these more hard-boiled stories are fun. This says more of where I am right now - in the countryside vs. when I lived in Manhattan :)

Plot:
I think at one point I considered Osborne but I moved away from it for some reason. In the final reveal my mind had drifted back to Miss Diversey but I still couldn't see where her place was in the plot. She was in actuality the catalyst for the action so I did like that twist. The ending for Osborne shocked me at first but it made the setting (22nd floor) relevant and it seemed cowardly but I guess the idea is that he was a risk averse person who did something significantly risky and could not live with the consequences.

Verdict:
I would definitely read Ellery Queen again and I may even reread this some day now that I know whodunit.


message 8: by Marie (new)

Marie | 77 comments Well said, Marie! I wondered about Osborne, too, not as a perpetrator but as a witness: why didn’t he hear anything in the adjacent room? The belief that he could’ve been too intent on his own work just didn’t seem likely.


message 9: by Tara (new)

Tara  | 105 comments Marie wrote: "This was my first Ellery Queen novel. I switched back and forth between listening and reading and also rereading certain sections. My thoughts...

Pros:
-The literary allusions (Shakespeare, Carrol..."


I believe we are told that initially the clothes were put on backwards to hide the fact that the victim was a priest, as the murderer felt that fact would lead the police back to him eventually. But if he only switched around the clothes, that would bring too much attention to them, so he had to turn everything backwards. Unfortunately that led the detectives straight to China as the link, which eventually was his undoing.
I really didn't have any idea who the killer was, although I suspected Berne, but I think he was intentionally made dislikeable. Overall, an entertaining and enjoyable mystery, although like you Marie I prefer my British country murders over hard boiled stuff (as much as I adore Gilded Age NYC).


message 10: by Christine PNW, Agathyte (last edited Oct 16, 2020 03:04PM) (new)

Christine PNW (moonlight_reader) | 917 comments I enjoyed it - there were lots of red herrings throughout the book, and the author did a nice job with misdirection. It's interesting that most of what happened between about page 30 and page 260 were inconsequential to the plot. The motive is set up at the beginning, but all of the action with Irene Llewes and Marcella is just in there to keep us from ignoring what the Inspector said at the very beginning:

“You’d think,” snapped the Inspector, “he’d hear all this furniture being shoved around!”

“Pshaw, dad,” said Ellery wearily, “you know Osborne’s type as well as I do. If he was occupied doing something during the murder-period, you may be sure he was deaf, dumb, and blind. He’s as loyal to Kirk as a woman in love, and he’s fanatically devoted to Kirk’s interests.”


The investigation could've stopped there, lol. Case closed.

I still don't really get the physical matter of the way that Osborne locked the door. I can't visualize it.


message 11: by Tara (new)

Tara  | 105 comments Is there a term for mysteries that involve stamps (similar to bibliomysteries)? I feel like its a rather common theme from this time period, so I would assume there is some kind of sub-genre for it.


Natalie aka Tannat | 93 comments Christine PNW wrote: "I still don't really get the physical matter of the way that Osborne locked the door. I can't visualize it."

I think this is one of those situations where a Columbo-style reconstruction on TV would make more sense. I got partway on my own because I figured the spears had been used to make the corpse behave like a board and the bookcase as a prop, but I didn't work out what the corpse was supposed to be doing. After the explanation I can half-see it, but I'm not wasting much brainpower on it.

Although after writing that I went looking on YouTube and found this:
https://youtu.be/q10rMii_Ig8?t=2937 but they were lazy and didn't use the rope. Sorry.

I think I struggled with this one partly because to my modern viewpoint the idea of a man with no tie isn't so strange.


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