icon facebook hovericon twitter hovericon flickr hovericon pinterest hover

Search the catalog:

mlc revised notext

My Library Card

All W-TCPL locations will be closed on Monday, Feb. 19, for Presidents' Day.

  One Book logo 2018     The House Without a Key Biggers       

Join the Conversation!

Be part of One Book/One Community this March as we read and discuss the first Charlie Chan mystery novel,
"The House Without a Key" 

  How to Participate:

  • Read the book
  • Start a conversation
  • Attend one of many library events
  • Explore related books & movies

About the Book
 | About the Author | Book Discussions |
Special Events | Movie Showings | Events Brochure | Related Reading

One Book/One Community is a community initiative that encourages everyone to celebrate reading through conversations and events related to one book. Join the W-TCPL and our partners this spring for a series of exciting events featuring The House Without a Key and topics related to this mystery novel.

One Book/One Community 2018 is supported in part by the Martini Martin Arts Trust and is a collaboration of the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, Bristol Public LibraryHubbard Public Library, Kinsman Free Public LibraryMcKinley Memorial Library, and Newton Falls Public Library


About the Book

The House Without a Key Biggers

The House Without a Key was published in 1925 and is the first novel to feature the Charlie Chan character. Author Earl Derr Biggers would go on to write six novels featuring the fictional Chinese-American police detective. 

The plot of the mystery involves a young man from Boston traveling to San Francisco and then on to Hawaii to “retrieve” his aunt. She is refusing to come home to Boston following a visit to Hawaii. The hero, John Quincy Winterslip, learns that his relative Dan Winterslip has been murdered. And the plot thickens!

Biggers brings Honolulu to life with deft descriptions of the landscape and of its hybrid ethnic communities. With the creation of Chan, Biggers also shatters stereotypes and is ahead of his time in highlighting the positive aspects of Chinese-Hawaiian culture, just as his skillful rendering of San Francisco is noteworthy of its modernity and keen sense of place.

Copies of the book in regular format and eBook are available to borrow from many of the libraries in Trumbull County. 


About the Author

BiggersEarlDerrEarl Derr Biggers (1884 – 1933) was a novelist and playwright born and raised in Warren, Ohio. He is best known for his six mystery novels featuring fictional Chinese-Hawaiian detective Charlie Chan.

Biggers graduated from Warren High School in 1903 and in 1907 from Harvard University. While in high school, he founded “The Cauldron,” a monthly school literary magazine. Biggers was posthumously inducted into the Warren City Schools Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.

Biggers worked as a journalist in Cleveland and as a humorous columnist in Boston before pursuing fiction writing and relocating to New York and eventually California. By that time, he had finished his first novel, Seven Keys To Baldpate, and also his first comedy, If You're Only Human, and began writing plays. His war play, "Inside The Lines," ran 500 nights in London in 1915 and 1916. In 1919, Biggers decided to quit playwriting and go to California to write for motion pictures.

His reputation spread among the public with his most famous creation, Charlie Chan. He developed the character of Charlie Chan for his novel The House Without A Key in 1925. Biggers presented Chan as an intelligent, heroic character at a time when popular literature negatively stereotyped Asians. The Charlie Chan movies were one of the most successful screen series in history, with over 40 movies based on the character.

In 2017, the American Library Association’s “United for Libraries” division awarded the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library a Literary Landmark designation in honor of Biggers.

Book Discussions

Read The House Without a Key by Earl Derr Biggers, and then join in a discussion to share your opinions, questions, and insights. Copies of the book in paper format and eBook are available to borrow from libraries throughout Trumbull County.

When:  Tuesday, March 6 at 6 PM
Where: Liberty Branch Library

When:  Thursday, March 8 at 2 PM
Where: Main Library/Warren

When:  Monday, March 12 at 6 PM
Where: Lordstown Branch Library

When:  Wednesday, March 14 at 6:30 PM
Where: Cortland Branch Library

When:  Tuesday, March 20 at 6:30 PM
Where: Howland Branch Library

When:  Thursday, March 22 at 2 PM
Where: Brookfield Branch Library


Special Events


Earl Derr Biggers: Thinking Like a Mystery Writer

When: Saturday, March 3 at 2 PM
Where: Main Library/Warren

Warren native Earl Derr Biggers achieved literary fame in 1913 when he published his first novel, Seven Keys to Baldpate. But more fame was to come for Biggers in 1925, when he published
his first mystery, which featured Chinese-Hawaiian police detective Charlie Chan. In her colorful presentation, guest speaker Barbara Gregorich examines the mystery-writing techniques Biggers
needed to learn and evaluates how he employed these techniques in each of his six Chan mysteries.

Gregorich, an Ohio native who graduated from Brookfield High School and Kent State University, has published two adult mysteries and ghostwritten four Boxcar Children mysteries. She is also the author of Guide to Writing the Mystery Novel: Lots of Examples, Plus Dead Bodies. Copies of her new book, Charlie Chan's Poppa : Earl Derr Biggers, will be available for purchase and signing at the event.

No registration necessary. Free admission.


Earl Derr Biggers: The Warren Novelist Who Created Charlie Chan

When: Tuesday, March 6 at 6:30 PM
Where: Howland Branch Library

Guest speaker Jan Vaughn, assistant director of the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, will talk about Earl Derr Biggers’ days attending Warren High School, his literary successes in New York and California, and the lasting impact his Charlie Chan novels have had on cultural stereotypes. No registration necessary. Free admission.


Serendipity, Mystery, and Adventure: Researching the Life and Works of Earl Derr Biggers

When: Saturday, March 10 at 2 PM
Where: Main Library/Warren

Earl Derr Biggers’ greatest mystery was that of his own life. Guest speaker Carole Lovett Koontz, who conducted extensive research about the Charlie Chan mystery author, will explain that statement.

Koontz is a Trumbull County native and Howland High School graduate who has taught English and writing at the secondary and college levels and has worked as a freelance writer. In addition to articles about Biggers, Koontz has written many other articles for regional publications and has reviewed books for the Columbus Dispatch.

No registration necessary. Free admission.


Make It @ the Liberty Library

When: Tuesday, March 13 at 6 PM
Where: Liberty Branch Library

We will be making Hawaiian-themed parasol pick wreaths. All supplies will be provided. Free. Registration is limited; call (330) 759-2589 to sign up.


Hula Fusion

When: Sunday, March 18 at 2 PM
Where: Main Library/Warren

Hula Fusion Cleveland performs traditional and modern dances from the Polynesian and Hawaiian Islands. No registration necessary. Free admission.


The Music of the Islands

When: Tuesday, March 20 at 6:30 PM
Where: Cortland Branch Library

Enjoy an evening of Hawaiian and Tropical themed music with guitarist Ed Gorse. His selections include an eclectic mix of Classical, Jazz standards, Traditional Americana, and Hawaiian Slack Key. In addition to both classical and steel string guitars, he also plays solo mandolin and ukulele. No registration necessary. Free admission.


Cookbook Club

When: Thursday, March 22 at 6 PM
Where: Liberty Branch Library

Join us as we explore Asian & Hawaiian food themes through cookbooks. Select and make a recipe from a cookbook or magazine. (No Internet recipes please.) Bring your dish to share along with a copy of your recipe. Free. Registration is required by calling (330) 759-2589.


The Woman Detective in Popular Culture

When: Saturday, March 31 at 2 PM
Where: Main Library/ Warren

Generations of readers have enjoyed Nancy Drew, Miss Marple, and legions of spunky amateur female sleuths who picked up a flashlight to creep through the attic. But the 1980s brought a new heroine to the best seller list: the professional woman detective who gets her man with an arrest warrant or a bullet to the heart. 

Linda Mizejewski, Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at The Ohio State University, explores this new woman detective character and her bumpy transition to the box office and network television, where grit has often been traded for glamour. Hear about bestselling writers Sue Grafton and Patricia Cornwell, television series from Charlie’s Angels to Cold Case, and films such as The Silence of the Lambs.

neh logo horizlargeMizejewski is an Ohio Humanities Speakers Bureau scholar.  No registration necessary. Free admission.



Movie Showings

No registration necessary. Free admission.

Charlie Chan in Shanghai

When: Monday, March 19 at 2 PM
Main Library/Warren

Charlie Chan in London

When: Saturday, March 17 at 2 PM
Where: Brookfield Branch Library

When: Tuesday, March 27 at 6 PM
Where: Liberty Branch Library


Events Brochure

One Book 2018 Event Guide cover


This 2-page Programs & Events Guide (oversized PDF) contains a complete list of One Book/One Community activities at all participating libraries and locations; printed copies of the list are available at any participating location.



Related Reading

If you enjoyed reading The House Without a Key, watch this space for a Book List of related reading for suggestions of other books and authors you might like.




Saturday, February 17, 2018

  11:00 AM "Jr. Genius": Learning Through Play @ Main
  1:00 PM - 2:00 PM LEGO Lover's Unite! @ Cortland
  2:00 PM Reading and Other Forms of Art
  3:00 PM Teen Advisory Board @ Main


footer pinMain Library: 444 Mahoning Ave. NW, Warren, OH 44483  
footer phoneMain Library: (330) 399-8807
footer worldhttp://www.wtcpl.org

Brookfield Branch: (330) 448-8134
Cortland Branch: (330) 638-6335
Howland Branch: (330) 856-2011
Liberty Branch: (330) 759-2589
Lordstown Branch: (330) 824-2094

© 2017 Warren-Trumbull County Public Library