The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie
Amy Caudill‘s review
This novel begins by setting the scene for a misadventure between two comrades who may or may not be of suspicious character and nature, one whose true identity is not revealed until the very end of the story.
This book, referred to as the first in the Superintendent Battle series, does not contain a plot revolving around one of the author’s famed illustrious detectives. Rather, Superintendent Battle, while a character in the story, takes more of a minor or secondary role, while the main protagonist is at once a suspect and the chief, if unofficial, investigator of events.
The famous estate of Chimneys, a landmark and tourist destination of England, is a seat of nobility and the location of historic meetings between government officials of various countries, as well as the site of a murder and the rumored repository of a stolen treasure. When Anthony Cade, posing as his friend Jimmy McGrath, is invited there in an attempt to intercept a manuscript he has been charged with delivering to a publisher, he declines due to prior obligation.
However, Anthony soon finds himself on the way to the country estate anyway as coincidence or circumstance brings him to the aid of an English beauty, whose honor is questioned by some inflammatory documents Jimmy also imparted to him. The following day brings forth an attempted burglary and multiple homicides, one of which Anthony helps conceal until the proper time comes for confession.
Who actually is the murderer/murderers? And how are the pending publication of a noble’s memoirs, the murder of the heir of a deposed monarch, and a missing diamond tied together? Also, how many princes are actually present at Chimneys, and what is the real identity of the mysterious Anthony Cade, whose history is buried between Canada and the Congo?
Dame Christie keeps the reader guessing until the very last in this classic whodunit story. Be very sure, dear reader, who you trust, because almost no character is actually whom they seem at first appearance.
I award this story five stars. While it is not my favorite of all Christie’s books I have read, it is still an absorbing story with enough twists and turns to satisfy any mystery fan.