FFB: The Chinese Parrot by Earl Derr Biggers

this is the 109th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

The Chinese Parrot by Biggers, Earl Derr © 1926, this copy: Bantam Books mass market paperback, mystery, 2nd Charlie Chan

Chinese ParrotI decided to read (or re-read in some cases) the Chan books after mention of one of them in a comment to this blog by J.F. Norris of the Pretty Sinister Books website. I’d read The House Without A Key a few years back, so it was time for this one, which I hadn’t read before.

A woman whose son has run through most of the family money decides she must sell a highly valued string of pearls, and asks a prominent San Francisco jeweler to broker the deal. The sale is made to millionaire J.P. Madden, and he asks that the pearls be delivered to him in New York. Then a phone call changes the delivery location to the millionaire’s ranch in the California desert. Chan, an old family friend of the seller, has brought the pearls from Hawaii, and now accompanies the jeweler’s son to the desert location to deliver the pearls and collect the money for them.

Fearing foul play and an attempted robbery attempt, Chan masquerades as a pidgin-speaking cook named Ah Kim and works underground to solve the murder of a mysterious man and a Chinese speaking parrot.

There is a lot more going on than it first seems, and the pearls are withheld until Chan feels it’s the right time to deliver them. Meantime the jeweler’s son makes friends with the local newspaper publisher and a beautiful young woman in the area to scout movie locations.

This one features the usual clever Chan insights, a raft of interesting characters, several puzzles and a satisfying, if not completely surprising, ending. I enjoyed it. During my reading of the book I had a lot of distractions and read it in fits and starts, which caused me to feel I was plodding through. Reading a book one or two pages at a time will do that. However I read the final third of the book straight through and that was much better. The book isn’t as dated as might be expected, especially, as J.F. Norris mentioned, the motion picture aspects. If you haven’t read this one or are just in the mood for some real Charlie Chan (as opposed to the films) try this.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The rest of the Friday Forgotten Book posts
can be found at Patti Abbott’s fine blog Pattinase

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
This entry was posted in books, Friday Forgotten Book, Review and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to FFB: The Chinese Parrot by Earl Derr Biggers

  1. I read the six Chan books years ago, as well as Dennis Lynds’ entry in the series(a uniform edition with the Biggers six). At this point I don’t remember a lot about them. Maybe it’s time to dig them out and give them a re-read.

  2. Richard says:

    Yes, Randy. Yes it is.

  3. This was the first Chan I read, nearly 50 years ago, and I must have liked it because I quickly ran through all the other books in the series.

  4. LIke James Reasoner, I read the Charlie Chan books back in the 1960s. I don’t remember much about them other than, like you and James, I liked them.

  5. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I read several of the Chans back in 1974-75. THE HOUSE WITHOUT A KEY made the strongest impression, with its picture of Hawaii in the 1920s.

  6. cgramlich says:

    I have a confession to make. I have never even seen a Charlie Chan movie, much less read the books.

  7. Evan Lewis says:

    Better/worse than House Without a Key?

  8. Richard says:

    Evan, it’s been along time since I read House Without A Key, but I think I liked it better. However, as I said in the review, I read this one in fits and starts so I may have enjoyed it more if I’d given it a better chance by reading it right through.

  9. Pingback: EARL DERR BIGGERS. The Chinese Parrot (1926). | Only Detect

  10. cgramlich says:

    Never read a Charlie chan

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