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The Secret of Chimneys (1925)

by Agatha Christie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Superintendent Battle (1)

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2,438574,610 (3.59)122
Little did Anthony Cade suspect that a simple errand on behalf of a friend would make him the centrepiece of a murderous international conspiracy. Someone would stop at nothing to prevent the monarchy being restored in faraway Herzoslovakia.
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» See also 122 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
I'm not sure whether it's a spoof of spy novels or an honestly heavy-handed spy novel, but it was good fun. ( )
  AmphipodGirl | May 23, 2021 |
I might be getting the hang of Agatha Christie's novels. This one has characters I quite like and a solution that I found not entirely unpredictable, which is how I tend to like mysteries. I don't want the reveal to come out of left field, but I also don't want it to be obvious from the start. This novel struck that balance for me. Enjoyed despite the hoity-toity "England's the best and everyone else is a barbarian" overtones. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Feb 23, 2021 |
Finally, a group of individuals interested in reading Agatha Christie, after I decided to take the plunge in 2021. Agatha Christie adores following Shakespeare model with the mistaken identity or multiple aliases of a character. In this novel, Anthony Cade goes through three different monikers. I fervently wish that Christie had provided a list of characters in her novels as I felt compelled to list all the name changes. The Scotland Yard officer, Superintendent Battle, enters and exits too often and does not seem to detect what is happening. Anthony Cade agrees to deliver a manuscript to England for a friend and immediately encounters problems. Politics, intrigue, and romance follow as many people meet at Chimneys, the stately home Lord Caterham. The story provides amusement, but other novels, especially with Hercule Poirot, delight the reader. ( )
  delphimo | Feb 22, 2021 |
This is a country house closed room murder mystery, originally written in 1925. Superintendent Battle is a Scotland Yard police detective working along with amateur detective Anthony Cade to solve the murder of King Michael of a Balkan nation called Herzoslovakia. The investigation is wrapped in a busy story involving Balkan political intrigue, oil concessions, a long lost jewel and an elusive French thief known as King Victor. It comes to a breathless conclusion when the killer is revealed. Several characters are not who they originally present to be. There's skilful use of an unreliable narrator which only becomes apparent at the end. It's fun entertainment. ( )
  BrianEWilliams | Feb 16, 2021 |



‘The Secret Of Chimneys’, published In 1925, was Agatha Christie’s fifth novel. Like ‘The Secret Adversary’ (1922) and ‘The Man In The Brown Suit’ (1924), it is an early example of a thriller, rather than a detective story. It is also the first of her five Superintendent Battle books..

Sadly, it has neither the freshness and vigour of the earlier thrillers. They had main characters I could root for. 'The Secret Of Chimneys' is filled with people I'd prefer not to spend time with. Superintendent Battle is the best thing in the book and he isn't given much to do except demonstrate that, even though he's a policeman and is not a gentleman, he's still astute and intelligent. How remarkable is that?

It was a book I was glad to be done with. The plot manages to be silly without being amusing. I felt as if I'd just stepped out of a period adaptation of Scooby-Doo with added doses of patriarchy, xenophobia, and aristocratic exceptionalism thrown in for authenticity.

I detested the hero, Anthony Cade, on sight and further acquaintance only confirmed my poor opinion of him as a chancer, all confidence and cunning wrapped up in charm. The aristocrats in the book respond to him as 'one of us' not despite his behaviour but because that behaviour demonstrates his unassailable sense of entitlement.

The foreigners presented in the book have all the authenticity of a Tintin cartoon. Christie demonstrates her dislike of Italians, her disdain for Slavs, her sense that a British financier with the surname Isaacstein is almost a foreigner and her belief that even foreign aristocrats negotiating internal contracts can't master the basics of English syntax.

The denouement is so ludicrous it's almost a pastiche of itself. After the big reveal, Christie makes us trudge through two more chapters, one to help anyone who hasn't understood the plot to have it explained to them one more time and a final one for readers who need this rather dull cake to be iced over with an attempt at romance. Even the romance fails, degrading into a successful negotiation between two people who know themselves too well to have any truck with romance.

If this had been my first Christie, it would have been my last.
( )
  MikeFinnFiction | Feb 8, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christie, Agathaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fraser, HughNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tromp, H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Little did Anthony Cade suspect that a simple errand on behalf of a friend would make him the centrepiece of a murderous international conspiracy. Someone would stop at nothing to prevent the monarchy being restored in faraway Herzoslovakia.

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A bit of adventure and quick cash is all that good-natured drifter Anthony Cade is looking for when he accepts a messenger job from an old friend. It sounds so simple: deliver the provocative memoirs of a recently deceased European count to a London publisher. Little did Anthony suspect that a simple errand to deliver the manuscript on behalf of his friend would drop him right in the middle of an international conspiracy, and he begins to realize that it has placed him in serious danger. Why were Count Stylptich's memoirs so important? And what was "King Victor" really after? The parcel holds ore than scandalous royal secrets - because it contains a stash of letters that suggest blackmail. Someone would stop at nothing to prevent the monarchy being restored in faraway Herzoslovakia.

Wherever ravishing Virginia Revel went, death seemed sure to follow. First her husband died. The next to perish was a foreign prince whose ruthless power was matched by his scandalous passions. Then a bungling blackmailer followed them into the grave. Murder, blackmail, stolen letters, and a fabulous missing jewel: all under the not always co-operative eyes of Scotland Yard and the Surete. All threads lead to Chimneys, one of England's historic country house estates, where a master murderer mingled with the aristocratic guests. Virginia could turn to only one person to prove her innocence and end her nightmare, and she could only pray that she had not put her life into the hands of the man who was out to take it....
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