As this post is written, I am sitting in my hotel room in Honolulu - along Waikiki Beach, if you must know. So it seems only appropriate that we spend our time together today talking about one of Honolulu's finest fictional detectives - Charlie Chan. His second adventure, "The Chinese Parrot," by Earl Derr Biggers, is the subject of this week's Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the entire review by clicking here.
All right, so "The Chinese Parrot" doesn't take place in Hawaii. Instead, Charlie Chan finds himself delivering a necklace of rare pearls from Honolulu to a friend, a San Francisco jeweler. Perhaps inevitably, of course, things go wrong, and Charlie is sent, pearls in hand, to a ranch in the Southwestern desert, with instructions to deliver the jewels only if everything appears to be in order and on the up-and-up. Do I hear any readers volunteering to guess whether THAT is at all likely? Of course, there will be murder and a fair amount of mayhem before the jewels can be delivered and the murderer revealed - and the reader will have plenty of opportunities to be skillfully misled.
I like the original Charlie Chan novels by Biggers, who created his character as a direct reaction against the kind of racial nonsense so prevalent in too much sensational fiction of the 1920s - the evil-Oriental-genius-out-to-conquer-the-world nonsense. By contrast, Charlie is a hard working, very smart detective of Chinese-American ancestry who bitterly resents the kind of casual racism he is too often shown, as we'll see in "The Chinese Parrot." It's an excellent mystery, very much worth your time and effort, now that it's back in print.