The Black Camel: A Charlie Chan Mystery

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Author: Biggers, Earl Derr (1884-1933) inscribed

Year: 1929

Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill Company

Place: Indianapolis


312 pages. Small octavo (7 3/4" x 5 1/4") bound in original publisher's grey cloth with red lettering to spine and cover in original jacket. Inscribed on second front end-paper. First edition in second state jacket.

Earl Derr Biggers is remembered primarily for his novels, especially those featuring the fictional Chinese American detective Charlie Chan, from which popular films were made in the United States and China. Derr Biggers was born in Warren, Ohio, and graduated from Harvard University in 1907. He worked as a journalist for The Plain Dealer before turning to fiction. His novel Seven Keys to Baldpate was popular in 1913, and George M. Cohan quickly adapted the novel as a hit Broadway stage play of the same name. Cohan starred in the 1917 film version, one of seven film versions of the play, and a 1935 revival. More than 10 years after Baldpate, Derr Biggers had even greater success with his series of Charlie Chan detective novels. The popularity of Charlie Chan extended even to China, where audiences in Shanghai appreciated the Hollywood films. Chinese companies made films starring this fictional character. Derr Biggers publicly acknowledged the real-life detective Chang Apana as the inspiration for the character of Charlie Chan in his letter to the Honolulu Advertiser of June 28, 1932.

The Black Camel (1929) is the fourth of the Charlie Chan novels by Earl Derr Biggers. It tells the story of a Hollywood star (Shelah Fane), who is stopping in Hawaii after she finished shooting a film on location in Tahiti. She is murdered in the pavilion of her rental house in Waikiki during her stay. The story behind her murder is linked with the three-year-old murder of another Hollywood actor and also connected with an enigmatic psychic named Tarneverro. Chan, in his position as a detective with the Honolulu Police Department, "investigates amid public clamor demanding that the murderer be found and punished immediately. "Death is a black camel that kneels unbidden at every gate. Tonight black camel has knelt here", Chan tells the suspects. It was adapted into a film of the same name based on the book and released in 1931. This was the second of a series of sixteen Chan films to feature Warner Oland as the sleuth.


Points gently rubbed, back inner hinge cracked, spine slightly darkened, previous owner's name on half title, inscribed on second front end paper, spine end rubbed. Jacket spine head chipped with a quarter inch loss, edge wear with some chips and closed tears, spine sunned, hinges and fold over edges rubbed, price clipped, corners chipped else about very good in about a good to very good jacket.

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