Saturday, 18 October 2014

The Chinese Orange Mystery by Ellery Queen

Miss Diversey fled Dr. Kirk's study followed by a blistering mouthful of ogrish growls. 

A lot has been said of this mystery with its seemingly unsolvable puzzle. I started reading this and managed to get quite a ways in, more than half, before I stopped. After a while the characters started to bug me and I got to wishing they'd all be found lying there dead on the next page. When I realized that wasn't going to happen, I chucked the book. So I never did learn the solution to this, not that I couldn't look it up if I wanted to, I could, I just don't care.

The opening line epitomizes how this story is told. Fleety characters with melodramatic posturing. Nevertheless, there is character and conflict of a sort, and it's brief and to the point. The conflict, however, is not remarkable, but in a sense it doesn't need to be in the first sentence - though I prefer a sign of creative genius in the opening line, you know, something that hooks me and won't let go. This let's go.

The rest of the paragraph is long, windy, descriptive and a little funny towards the end.

She stood still in the corridor outside the old gentleman's door, her cheeks burning and one of her square washed-out hands pressed to the outraged starch of her bosom. She could hear the angry septuagenarian scuttling about the study in his wheelchair like a Galapagos turtle, muttering anathemas upon her white-capped head in a fantastic potpourri of ancient Hebrew, classic Greek, French, and English.

First thing said:

"And don't come back, do you hear me?" 

Verdict: Fail

Theodore Moracht

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