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Number 2 of the Charlie Chan Series, The Chinese Parrot: A Charlie Chan Mystery lands our master detective in the California desert.  But this time, he not only must find a murderer, he must discover who’s been murdered!  Helping Bob Eden deliver a string of pearls to a buyer started out sounding simple enough; now Charlie Chan finds himself undercover and is painfully forced to speak bad English – not such a comfort for our intellectual sleuth who prides himself in the well-formed and poetic sentence.

Biggers manages to make the second book of his Charlie Chan series, The Chinese Parrot: A Charlie Chan Mystery even better than the first.  Great dialog reminiscent in style of some of my favorite old movies, an even more complex mystery plot than the first, and a lot more of Charlie Chan himself, are all to be found in The Chinese Parrot.  And as before, Biggers jumped decades ahead of his time by subtly taking on the misconceptions of race to stereotypes while keeping his audience guessing, laughing, and completely riveted in yet another compelling mystery I, for one, am impatiently awaiting Academy of Chicago’s fall release of numbers 3 and 4 of the Charlie Chan series.

Want a shot at winning The Chinese Parrot?  Here’s your chance!

Multiple Options for Entry:

1.) Just tell me a real mystery you’ve encountered – solved, unsolved, one sentence or ten!  Baffle me… (You may enter once a day.) Remember, leave an interesting comment.  If I cannot contact the winner, you might be chosen instead based on your comment.

2.) Email subscribers get an extra entry for as long as their subscription is active.

     Already a subscriber?  Leave me a separate comment on this post to let me know you’re interested in this giveaway.

     Want to subscribe?  Just enter your email address in the “Subscribe” box on the left. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you do not receive it, check your junk mail. Only verified subscriptions are entered for all the giveaways.)

3.) Blog about this giveaway on your blog with a link back to this post.  Come back and leave me a Comment with a link to your blog post. (If your comment doesn’t show up right away, don’t worry – I may have to approve it first.  My blog might think it’s spam but gosh darn, I certainly don’t!)

4.) I’m feeling Twittery.  If you Twitter a link to this giveaway, come back and comment here to let me know your Twitter name for another entry! (I’m dkmommy if you want to follow me.)

Feel free to do all four to gain several entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Wednesday, May 13, 2009, to enter.

Check out all current giveaways for both my blogs here.

Another installment of the Japanese Literature Series by Dalkey Archive Press, these two Tsutomu Mizukami Novellas allow an English-speaking readership its first look at The Temple of the Wild Geese and The Bamboo Dolls of Echizen.

The Temple of the Wild Geese tells the story of a temple at the base of Mt. Kinugasa. The mistress of a famous artist is coerced into moving in with the infatuated priest after her lover dies. Life is relatively comfortable and simple. Satoko falls into a monotonous daily routine; but she’s constantly finding herself unnerved by the eerie apprentice of the priest. An unusually small and haunted boy of 13, he was once abandoned by his mother and taken in by the temple to aid the priest. Jinen is a dutiful and hard worker – but Satoko senses something about him. He’s too quiet, too composed. This first story is every bit a mystery, and as the mystery lover that I am, I enjoyed attempting to unravel this Japanese tale.

The second story, The Bamboo Dolls of Echizen, becomes a mystery only from the angle of deciphering if and how it ties in with the first story. Both stories are set in 1930’s Japan, and both contain a similar main character who is shunned by society. But the premises of these two stories are very different – at first glance. Echizen is a small village known for its bamboo artisans. A small and lonely man lives there, his bamboo skills beyond anyone else. What follows evolves into a strange, sad love story. Or is it? He is unwanted by anyone until one woman comes into his life as a most unexpected partner.

I wanted to go into more detail about the second story, but something began to happen as I wrote – I knew the two stories contained many parallels, but I began finding so many that I’m certain sharing the connections would give the fun away of reading the book. The biggest mystery of these stories, it appears, is how they’re intertwined. Are they truly connected? If so, how? Readers will enjoy some wonderful aspects of these novellas – the settings, the unusual characters, the mysterious aura.

Mizukami (1919 – 2004) was a wonderful storyteller with a gift of adding an element of the unexpected. He has received many awards for his writing, including the Naoki Prize for The Temple of the Wild Geese, one of his most popular stories. It is said these two stories in particular are semi-autobiographical. Given the nature of the characters and the plots, it makes one want to find out more about this popular and beloved Japanese writer.

For more on Japanese literature, check out The Japanese Literature Home Page.