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The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie
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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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Although I'm not at all a fan of Christie's "international intrigue'-type novels due to what seems to me to be their extreme silliness, I found this one to be fairly enjoyable thanks to a couple of humorous characters and scenes which had me chuckling. ( )
  TanteLeonie | Feb 8, 2019 |
The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie was a very fun read revolving around revolutionists, royalty, mistaken and false identities, a spectacular missing jewel and, of course murder. Beginning in Africa, the story quickly moves to the stately English manor of Chimneys and follows the escapades of Anthony Cade, international adventurer as he tries to complete his mission of delivering a sensitive Herzoslovakian manuscript of memoirs and a bundle of blackmailing letters.

This is the first book that features Superintendent Battle of Scotland Yard, and he wisely stays in the background leading a firm and steady hand to the procedures. Along with an assortment of political guests, Battle is assisted by a couple of international colleagues whose main interest is in unveiling the famous thief, King Victor. The murders seem to be almost a side plot as political intrigue and revolution in the fictional Balkan state of Herzoslovakia is the main feature.

I think Agatha Christie had a fun time writing this tongue-in-cheek thriller/mystery. She delivers a tale peopled by handsome adventurers, swarthy foreigners, beautiful, calm English ladies, and fuddled English aristocrats. There was a sweet romance included and although the final outcome of the story was no surprise, I enjoyed this very vintage mystery. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Jan 5, 2019 |
(Original Review, 1981-01-10)

By the time she died, few people probably remembered the casual Antisemitism of Agatha Christie's early books (try “The Secret of Chimneys”); the prejudice had ceased to be fashionable, and she'd stopped expressing it. Chesterton's antisemitism was deeper, and maybe he'd have kept it up longer; but his basic good sense and kindness would surely have ruled that odious tic out, in a different age.

I too have been re-reading or trying to re-read some old favourites. It is one good way to see how much the accepted norms of a culture change over time. I often muse as to what our culture currently finds commonplace but will be regarded as completely unacceptable in 50 or 100 years, or perhaps sooner. Eating other animals leaps to mind as a strong possibility. This may become taboo either because of the callous treatment of food source animals such as battery chickens or because of the heavy environmental impact of raising animals for food. If this does come about, I imagine contemporary cookbooks will be viewed, literally, as food porn. And film scenes in which the characters partake of a juicy steak - horrors! We are all shaped by our culture and are not responsible for, or able to bear the burden of, choices that are made by our posterity.

I read a lot of Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie years ago but the sentiments did not shape me either.
Past written books are fine; it's understood that they are old and should be viewed in the context of their author's time. It may be worth thinking that if these same authors were to write nowadays, their literature would be very different.

By the same token, some comments I’ve read are a step on the way to rounding up and 'disappearing' political dissidents. Fortunately, pointing this out is obviously nonsensical because it's such a tiny step, and there are so many other things that would need to happen on the way, and people are capable of taking decisions about each of those steps independently based on fuller criteria. What, criticising racist attitudes of the past leads inevitably to book-burning? Can you explain how? ( )
  antao | Nov 29, 2018 |
In which a country house plays host to international espionage.

The Secret of Chimneys is an odd little thing. Christie’s 1920s novel output consists of many mediocre thrillers, and this is one of the best of the lot. The household at Chimneys – personified by Wodehousian heiress Eileen “Bundle” Brent - have panache, and – while it’s far from Christie’s greatest strength – she really tries her best to write with a looser, more lively style, in the vein of the better Tommy and Tuppence books. If you only read one Christie thriller, check this one out – and it’s always enlightening to see an established author tackling a different genre. On the other hand, the sparkle, while there, is never particularly brilliant. The “international intrigue” encroaching on the comfortable country-house lifestyle is diverting, but the facts of the case are all a bit broad really.

Beyond this, Chimneys is one of those rough early novels that reveals an awkwardly racist streak. As with Hergé, and his Tintin series, Christie’s later work would somewhat make up for these youthful indiscretions, and – also like Hergé – an element of this racism and anti-semitism was simply a product of her upbringing in pre-war England. But it colours things nonetheless. ( )
1 vote therebelprince | Oct 30, 2018 |
I think Christie's international intrigue novels are not for me. The only time I perked up was when Bundle and Virginia Revel were in the scene, livening up the dialogue. Otherwise there was not much here; and of course the lovely casual racism and antisemitism and xenophobia so particular to British fiction of this era stand out all the more.

But it is interesting to read her early novels and appreciate her development as a writer in the later novels, especially in terms of plotting. ( )
  subabat | Mar 19, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christie, Agathaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fraser, HughNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tromp, H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
It all began
the day a packet of indiscreet love letters - written by a married lady to a gentleman not her husband - fell into the wrong hands...

It Ended
when the violence of a man's emotions turned a gay and fashionable house party into an unforgettable nightmare of terror and death...

-------------------
This is the story of a beautiful and captivating woman who no man could resist - who learned (nearly too late) that such charm can be fatal.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312979746, Mass Market Paperback)

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. But the parcel holds ore than scandalous royal secrets. It contains a stash of letters that suggest blackmail--and lead to the murder of a stranger who's been shadowing Anthony's every move. Discovering the dead man's identity means retracing his steps--to the rambling estate of Chimneys where darker secrets, and deadlier threats, await anyone who dares to enter.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:37 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

"Little did Anthony Cade suspect that an errand for a friend would place him at the centre of a deadly conspiracy. Drawn into a web of intruige, he begins to realizes that the simple favour has placed him in serious danger. As events unfold, the combined forces of Scotland Yard and the French S ret? gradually converge on Chimneys, the great country estate that hides an amazing secret..." Back cover.… (more)

» see all 12 descriptions

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