"Somehow she had never thought of a Japanese as capable of emotion. It struck her suddenly that just because their eyes were shaped differently, (sic) was no sign they possessed no tear-ducts"
"The Door Between"
Being asked to vote for a list of best mystery novels (both Japanese and foreign) of all time resulted in a long, long discussion and a lot of politics at the Mystery Club. It sounds fun in theory, but just imagine the efforts needed to compress everybody's opinions and favorites in two lists of ten titles. Keeping in mind that the publisher of the list asked several other mystery circles, as well as famous writers, to vote too, 'our' list included quite a lot of strategic choosing (No need to 'push' a certain famous title, because it will come up anyway). Which explains why Christie didn't make the cut in our list. And Queen has a very, very ambigeous spot in the list. But skipping dinner and talking for about four hours about all kinds of detective fiction is... actually closer to hell than heaven. Glad we're done.
Oh, and this is an Ellery Queen novel, so he appears in there somewhere too.
This is a weird Ellery Queen novel. It was originally serialized in a women's magazine it seems, and heck, does it show. Not to look down upon them unconditionally, but this novel is very different from the previous Queen novels (the nationality novels and Halfway House). The story follows the adventures of Eva, with all the drama surrounding her being a suspect and love triangles and I don't know. Heck, inspector Queen and even Ellery for some time act more like the antagonists rather than the protagonists! I concur that this was also kinda present in Halfway House, but I at least had a lot more fun overall with that novel than with The Door Between.
Which was also because I was not too impressed by the puzzle plot. This is pretty much a locked room puzzle (if one accepts Eva's innocence because she is the poor little female protagonist who needs protection from everybody), but the road to the solution never feels as satisfying as the pure logical elimination method employed in the earlier novels. Ellery mostly guesses. And to be honest, I wasn't too impressed by the solution either. The Door Between is quite far removed from the nationality novels, which makes it that much ironic that the Japanese title of this novel translates to The Japanese Jay Mystery and is considered an unofficial part of the nationality series. Which it really, really isn't. It would have been better if they had done that with Halfway House...
And I know this novel was written in another time and actually, if one keeps that in mind it might not even be that bad, but I made quite a lot Marge Simpson groan imitations as I was reading The Door Between because of its Orientalist views. Like the quote above. Which is really just the tip of the iceberg. It's a parade of all kind of Orientalist remarks by everyone and the book also features some interesting sentences written in romanized Japanese. I really should borrow the Japanese translation one of these days to see what they did with that!
I just read The Door Between as I've read most other Queens and I'm just picking up the last few ones I missed, but man, would I have been disappointed if I had read this thinking this was a nationality novel! I am happy I read this now, because this would have left quite a bad impression on my thoughts on Queen, I think.