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The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie

The Seven Dials Mystery (original 1929; edition 2017)

by Agatha Christie (Author)

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2,483604,836 (3.58)110
A healthy young man dies in his sleep, despite the ringing of eight separate alarm clocks... Gerry Wade had proved himself to be a champion sleeper; so the other house guests decided to play a practical joke on him. Eight alarm clocks were set to go off, one after the other, starting at 6.30 a.m. But when morning arrived, one clock was missing and the prank had backfired with tragic consequences. For Jimmy Thesiger in particular, the words 'Seven Dials' were to take on a new and chilling significance...… (more)
Title:The Seven Dials Mystery
Authors:Agatha Christie (Author)
Info:HarperCollins (2017), 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:read in 2022

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The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie (1929)


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English (54)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Danish (1)  French (1)  All languages (60)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
This was by equal measure delightful and dull. It’s a spy thriller rather than the kind of whodunnit one associates with Christie (although it has a definite mystery element) and is apparently a pastiche of the kind of espionage novel that was popular after the First World War, and my lack of experience of that particular sub genre probably muted my enjoyment of it all somewhat. There’s a lot of running around and suspicion and derring do and I’m afraid I got lost a bit in the plot.
What I did enjoy enormously was the heroine, Bundle. She’s a marvellously feisty, adventurous young woman who puts the loud, buffoonish male characters to shame with her common sense, bravery and tenacity.
A bit of a mixed bag for me then, but not without its charms. ( )
  whatmeworry | Apr 9, 2022 |
Sort of P G Wodehouse writes a thriller
  ritaer | Jan 12, 2022 |
Usually I'm not a big fan of when Christie tackles criminal secret societies, international/political intrigue, or romance, but despite The Seven Dials Mystery centering on all three, it somehow managed to work for me. Much helped by the reappearance of the now-recurring characters of Bundle and Battle, who I both thoroughly enjoy , and the lampooning of several of Christie's previous plot contrivances. Emilia Fox did a solid job as audiobook narrator-- her Battle was a bit odd, but she really thrives with the "bright young thing" types of characters, who Christie always brings to life with a precisely careless air, and who are the main focus of this mystery.

It's not perfect, sometimes lost the plot a bit, and I would have liked Bundle to get the mystery in the end. But overall very Wodehouse-y, nicely twisty, with just a touch of tension. ( )
  misslevel | Oct 1, 2021 |
Clever. ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |

It's not a good thing when the first words I think of at the end of a novel are: 'Oh dear!' followed by 'And it was going quite well'.

In current memes this becomes:



I enjoyed most of the book and liked some of the characters but, in the last fifteen per cent, the plot took a wrong turn, the exposition lost its lustre and some of the characters seemed to have undergone personality transplants.

Reading through Agatha Christie's books in order is an easy way to disprove the notion that writers get better with every book. In 1925, Agatha Christie published 'The Secret Of Chimneys', the book that first introduced us to some of the main characters in 'The Seven Dials Mystery'. It's one of the few Christie books that I'd recommend skipping. Yet her next book was one of her best, 'The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd'. The same seems to have happened with 'The Seven Dials Mystery', published in 1929. It's an improvement on 'The Secret Of Chimneys' but it's far from a great book. Yet the next book that Christie published was 'The Murder At The Vicarage' the first Miss Marple book and one of my personal favourites

When I started reading 'The Seven Dials Mystery'. I was pleasantly surprised at its lightness of tone. We were at Chimneys again but with a mostly fresh cast of characters, an industrialist and his wife were renting the place and were playing host to young men who seemed to have come straight out of a Bertie Wooster novel. The young men, who included Bill Eversleigh from 'The Secret of Chimneys' were mostly from the Foreign Office where they 'were employed in a purely decorative capacity' and happily described themselves and each other as 'silly asses'.

Of course, in Bertie Wooster novels, people don't get murdered at Blandings. At Chimneys, someone is bumped off fairly early on and nobody knows why or by whom.

Then we see the re-emergence of some of the characters from 'The Secret Of Chimneys' and I wondered if things would take a dive. Thankfully, they didn't. Bundle, (Lady Eileen Brent) has grown up a bit in the four years since 'The Secret Of Chimneys' and I liked her rather better this time around. I was amused at her assumption that nothing bad could happen to 'a girl of her class'. Her use of her privilege was entirely reflexive and so easier to forgive than deliberate acts of snobbery would have been. Her father, Lord Caterham, is unchanged from the last book but gets more exposure this time. He is an essay on how to live a life focused on avoiding upset.

By the middle of the book, a pattern had been set that integrated Bundle and the decorative young asses into an informal group investigating the death of their friend. In the course of their investigations, they encounter a secret society called 'The Seven Dials' and we enter 'The Man Who Was Thursday' territory in an extravagant way.

As I read on, I mentally retitled the book, 'Bundle Pulls It Off'. I had fun watching the irrepressible Bundle pursue her prey more hampered than helped by young men who could be members of The Drones Club, as they tilted with enthusiastic ignorance at 1920's versions of Bond villains. It was absurd but Christie clearly knew that and I think she did it well. ,

Inspector Battle was his solid, imperturbable self. He at least seemed to know what was going on and his presence anchored the increasingly implausible plot.

I think the rot started after a very well put together scene between Lord Caterham and the ever-pompous George Lomax who had unknowingly cast himself as Mr Collins from 'Pride and Prejudice' and whom Caterham was trying, rather ineffectually, to protect from his own foolishness. The book took a sudden leap into quite under-written romance after that that transformed Bundle into someone who was quite hard to recognise.

What really made the soufflé fall flat were the final scenes which, instead of being a version of 'Bundle saves the day with daring do' became 'Bundle sits and listens while everything is explained to her by a man who seems to have become someone much more bizarre than we thought he was'. The explanation might have worked because, although it was highly implausible it was quite ingenious, but the flat, static mode of exposition leached away any cleverness and left me feeling that whole thing was a dreary anticlimax.

The ending was so bad and so unexpected that I was left wondering if Christie was being, to borrow the favourite word of one of the characters, subtle and was quietly laughing at her earlier thrillers like 'The Man In The Brown Suit'. which has some plot elements in common.

I listened to the audiobook version of 'The Seven Dials Mystery', narrated by Emilia Fox, whose narration was one of the reasons that I enjoyed most of this book. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.


( )
1 vote MikeFinnFiction | Jul 3, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Agatha Christieprimary authorall editionscalculated
Śliwa, LeszekTł.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carlos Paytuvi de sierraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Champon, AlexisTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Correy, Michael P.Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dahl, FridtjofTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dou-Desportes, MiriamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giumelli, O.Traduttoresecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giumelli, OmbrettaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Μιστράκη, ΤζένηTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Looman, HeikiIllustreerija.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Luho, HelenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McDermid, ValIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moura, Maria E. FerrosTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paytuví de Sierra, CarlosTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pełech, AnnaTł.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Persson, MiltonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Piceni, EnricoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Savonuzzi, ClaudioContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Toming, RalfTÕlkija.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tromp, H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vicens, AntoniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walter, Renate vonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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That amiable youth, Jimmy Thesiger, came racing down the big staircase at Chimneys two steps at a time.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English


A healthy young man dies in his sleep, despite the ringing of eight separate alarm clocks... Gerry Wade had proved himself to be a champion sleeper; so the other house guests decided to play a practical joke on him. Eight alarm clocks were set to go off, one after the other, starting at 6.30 a.m. But when morning arrived, one clock was missing and the prank had backfired with tragic consequences. For Jimmy Thesiger in particular, the words 'Seven Dials' were to take on a new and chilling significance...

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Haiku summary
Death at country house
A secret society
Bundle Brent turns sleuth

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