The Chinese statuette was really quite charming, carved from fine jade. It represented a Taoist deity known as the Goddess of the Green Shiver. It was not particularly valuable. So why, among the pieces of beautiful, rare and valuable artwork on display at the private exhibition, had someone chosen to steal this particular statuette? Before that question was answered, there would be a double murder to solve - and while the police were pretty sure who had committed the crime, historian and professor Lucius Theocritus Westborough disagreed. You can get the full story in Green Shiver, a 1941 mystery by Clyde B. Clason. It's the book you'll find reviewed today on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to that review by clicking here.
Clyde B. Clason, and his detective, Professor Westborough, are probably best known for their "impossible crime" sagas, but Green Shiver, the last of Clason's ten mysteries featuring the Professor, does not really have any impossible crimes to be solved. What it does have, however, is a rather exotic atmosphere and a mystery surrounding that jade statuette, and the mystery proves to be every bit as complicated and difficult to solve as an impossible crime might be. The story was written in the year leading up to the American entry into World War II, and that war, well under way in both Europe and the Pacific, plays a significant role in the events of the book. The mystery is quite fairly clued, but the reader should expect a surprising number of twists and turns in the plot before the mystery is resolved.
It should be noted that there is a fair amount of anti-Oriental prejudice expressed by some of the characters in the book, particularly the deliberately ignorant local police. Professor Westborough, by contrast, appreciates many of the nuances of Chinese culture (and the bitter hatred at the time between the Chinese and the Japanese who had invaded China), and it is only that appreciation of Chinese history and culture which allows Professor Westborough to reach a satisfactory solution to the mystery. Bottom line: Green Shiver is, in my estimation, one of Clason's best books, and I recommend it highly.
Once again, I am submitting this post as an entry in the My Reader's Block Vintage Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge, filling the square on the Golden bingo card calling for one book with a color in the title. For those keeping score, that completes the top line on my score card, and I call "Bingo!" accordingly.