Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Secret Of Chimneys - Agatha Christie

Little did Anthony Cade suspect that a simple errand to deliver a manuscript on behalf of a friend would drop him right in the middle of an international conspiracy. Why were Count Stylptich's memoirs so important? And what was 'King Victor' really after? Murder, blackmail, stolen letters and a fabulous missing jewel, all threads lead to Chimneys, one of England's historic country house estates, and a startling denouement.

The Secret of Chimneys is my final entry for the Cozy Mystery Challenge and I’m glad I ended with it because the whole story is just so cosy and a perfect example of the genre. It has a grand ancestral house with secret passages, mysterious deaths, famous thieves, compromising documents, disguised identities and fun characters. I really enjoyed it!

Somewhere in Africa, in the 1920s (the book was published in 1925) two friends meet and have a strange conversation about stolen love letters and the memoirs of a famous balkan politician. One of them, Anthony Cade, returns to England intending to give the letters back and see the biography published, however he is visited by a strange man wanting the book and he unexpectedly finds that the letter writer is not what he thought… not to mention that she will involve him in a mysterious death.

The Chimneys of the title is the home of the Marquis of Caterham and a favourite place for political reunions much to the current Marquis’ desperation. All the characters will end up there looking for a famous jewel stolen a few years and that is connected with the letters, the biography and the story of a fictional country named Herzoslovakia. When a murder occurs Superintendent Battle is called to Chimneys to investigate all the clues and see if he can not only solve the murder but also unravel the mystery of the stolen jewel. All this in an atmosphere of secret and political intrigue since the happenings may influence Herzoslovakia’s government. The political events mentioned felt very much inspired in what was going on at the Balkans at the time, from the secret society mentioned down to the royal assassination due to a poor choice of a bride and the fragile political balance the governments had.

What a lovely story! I spent an afternoon reading it with a cup of tea by my side. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Since then I discovered that some of the characters appear in another Christie’s book – Seven Dials Mystery – and now I can’t wait to pick that one up.

Grade: 4.5/5

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