The Book Report: Charlie Chan as written by Earle Derr Biggers
I have finished reading the Charlie Chan books and some of the other books by Earle Derr Biggers, (August 26, 1884 - April 5, 1933,) an American novelist and playwright. I can't say enough about Author Biggers. He was a superb writer and his well structured stories have great pacing. Though many of his works were written in the early part of the Twentieth Century, around the 1920's and 30's, and not at the time historical, today Biggers stories give the readers a great sense of the times they were written in and yet the characters could easily walk the streets today with no problems other than their old-time way of speaking. Being an old movie buff I've seen all the Charlie Chan movies and like them no matter who played Charlie, but they are nowhere as good as the books. Not even close in my opinion.
Besides his books, Earle Derr Biggers wrote plays and theatrical adaptations and short stories some of which became films. I read there might have been forty films featuring detective Charlie Chan alone.
Charlie Chan came to being when Biggers read an article in the newspaper about a Hololulu detective named Chang Apana he decided to model his own detective character after him. He reasoned, "Sinister and wicked Chinese are old stuff... but an amiable Chinese on the side of law and order had never been used."
The father of many children, 11 or more, the character Charlie Chan lives in Hawaii in his home on Punchbowl Hill. But this don't stop the character from finding his way around the world and in his own way root out killers. Charlie is sometimes treated with the lack of dignity and respect due to his race that was common to books of the era they were written in. But Charlie overcomes the prejudice by outwitting those carpers and earning respect. There is always a touch of romance between the young characters the author lines up to help Charlie foil the murderers.
There are six Charlie Chan original: House Without a Key, The Chinese Parrot, Behind That Curtain, The Black Camel, Charlie Chan Carries On, and The Keeper of the Keys.
A few other books by Biggers worth mentioning are: Agony Column, Love Insurance, 7 Keys to Baldpate. I recommend all.