This book, the last in the series, has plenty of atmosphere. Much is made of the cold weather and snow, which Charlie has never experienced. Because it was written in 1932, I was surprised to see that a charter airplane and its pilot feature prominently in this book. The picture of the sparsely populated area around Lake Tahoe in the early 1930's is intriguing. Chan takes the train to Truckee; he and other guests are driven to a tavern on the lake, then taken by motor boat to Ward's home across the lake. His home is very isolated.
There are six novels featuring Charlie Chan, and many movies. Most of the movies are not much like the novels, but they are a lot of fun. And in the movies, Charlie Chan is known for his pithy sayings. The first book, The House Without a Key (review here), is set in Hawaii. Charlie Chan does not show up until later in the book, and he seems to be in the background during most of the investigation. He doesn't speak English very well, and does not use the aphorisms for which he is known in the movies. In the second book, The Chinese Parrot (review here), Charlie is on a special case for a friend in California. In that one, he does use aphorisms, but sparingly. By this last book in the series. Charlie is spouting aphorisms very frequently and just about as much as in the movies. Each motto fits the scene though; they are not just there for effect. Some may even contain clues.
I found that of the three books I have read, each is very different. The first one involves a romance, and Charlie plays a smaller part. The second one seems more to be a classic puzzle plot. This book does fit the traditional mystery form, and there are clues. But this one was more entertaining for me than the second one, which was set in the desert. Maybe it was the location or the different set of characters involved. Although Charlie is a policeman in Hawaii, in most of the books he is outside of Hawaii working for an individual.
Charlie is easygoing and pleasant, but he never loses sight of his goal, to catch the murderer and prevent further crimes. In this book he is working in tandem with the sheriff. The rustic sheriff makes this clear:
It's going to be pretty unpleasant for all of us, I guess. I'm Don Holt, sheriff of the county, and I don't aim to cause no innocent person any unnecessary trouble. But I got to get to the bottom of this business, and the shorter the route, the better for all of us—well, most of us, anyhow. I've asked Inspector Chan, who's had more experience in this line than I have, to give me a hand here, an' I want to say right now, that when he asks, you answer. That's all, I reckon.Don Holt is a nice guy and he and Charlie work together well. All in all, a very enjoyable book.
Two years ago I read my first Charlie Chan book, and I read it for the first R.I.P. event that I participated in. I submit this review for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX. This book is also for the Books of 1932 challenge at Past Offences.
Publisher: Academy Chicago Publishers, 2009 (orig. pub. 1932)
Length: 251 pages
Format: Trade Paperback
Series: Charlie Chan, #3
Setting: Lake Tahoe, California
Source: I own a Dell Mapback edition but I read my husband's reprint edition.