Chang Apana was a longtime Hawaiian detective of Chinese descent, who worked Honolulu's Chinatown and among the islands' poorest immigrant workers. During his 24-year-long career, his detective exploits became legendary, not least because he was the only Chinese on the police force. He cleared opium dens with only his bullwhip, was a master of disguise, and solved crimes from robbery to murder quickly and often unconventionally. He was also adept at catching lepers, a crucial service given the epidemic the island suffered through.
Biggers first read about Chang in newspapers and based what he thought would be a minor character on the detective in 1924. The two did not meet until 1928, but Biggers eventually featured the Chan character in some half dozen novels and screen adaptations that became some of the most popular crime films of the 1930s.
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