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4.0 out of 5 stars The Case of the Murdered Hollywood Star, 22 Jun 2005
Peter Kenney (Birmingham, Alabama, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Charlie Chan in the Black Camel (Hardcover)
Film star Sheila Fane arrives in Honolulu to shoot the few remaining sequences of a movie. She rents a house on the beach. When Sheila throws a big party, she is found murdered in the pavillion just before she is scheduled to make her grand entrance. Charlie Chan is assigned to the case. Tarneverro, a fortuneteller and former friend of the deceased, offers to help Charlie solve the murder. Charlie and Tarneverro arrive at the scene before the guests depart.
Leading the parade of suspects is Bob Fife, Sheila's first husband, whom she had contacted again only recently. Chan is also very interested in Alan Jaynes whom Sheila had rejected as a suitor on the day of her murder.
The only serious suspect not at the party is an alcoholic beachcomber named Bob Smith who was near the house at the time of the crime. As Charlie's investigation approaches its conclusion, however,he has to admit that too much evidence points to the enigmatic Tarneverro himself-except that the seer seems to be the only one with an airtight alibi.
In 1932 Earl Biggers wrote a report to his Harvard classmates on the occasion of the twenty-fifth reunion of the class of 1907. He described how he happened to conceive of creating an ethnic Chinese detective for a mystery story set in Hawaii: "But my memories of the islands were rather dim; I dropped into a library to brighten them a bit by a perusal of recent Honolulu newspapers. In an obscure corner of an inside page, I found an item to the effect that a certain hapless Chinese, being too fond of opium, had been arrested by Sergeants Chang Apana and Lee Fook, of the Honolulu Police."
Because of this chance reading of a newspaper item, Biggers was inspired to use Chan in THE HOUSE WITHOUT A KEY which was published in 1925 after running serially in the SATURDAY EVENING POST.
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Charlie Chan in the Black Camel
Charlie Chan in the Black Camel by Earl Derr Biggers (Hardcover - 29 Sep 2003)
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