Book Club Picks: The Secret Of Chimneys

So remember when I said I started a book club?

Well the first book we choose to read was The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie.

I love this book, but sadly very few have ever heard of it, let alone read it.

So when I brought out three suggestions for us to choose from-The Westing Game, The Looking Glass Wars, and The Secret of Chimneys I was ecstatic they choose Chimneys as it would finally give me people to talk about it with!

As I already reviewed it in December, as part of my 30 day challenge, I will only give a quick review here.

Anthony Cade is working in Africa when he happens among his old friend Jimmy McGrath. Jimmy has been hired to deliver a manuscript in London, and has some letters he wants to return to a woman who was blackmailed, but can’t do either as he has a mining deal set up. Anthony goes in his place and discovers that everyone from Parliament, to rebels, nationalists called the Red Hand, and more are after that script. It appears he really got himself stuck in the middle of a serious mire.

What have I gotten myself into?

He prepares to return the letters to a Mrs. Virginia Revel, to stop her blackmailing, but they get stolen and he sets out to try and help her.

Just another thing to get involved with.

Meanwhile, politician George Lomax is worried that some old secrets, especially those of a missing jewel, will come to light with the publication of the memoirs. He enlists the Lord Caterham to use the stately home of Chimneys as a place to secure an oil deal, and weasel the memoirs out of McGrath. He also engages the assistance of his beautiful, charming, cousin-Mrs. Virginia Revel, a widow.

As Virginia prepares from the weekend, she is blackmailed by a waiter who has letters with her signature, but ones she did not write. Weird.

She agrees to meet with the blackmailer again, only to find him dead in her house.

Not sure what to do, she asks a veteran she spotted on the sidewalk selling tracts to help her. He checks out the scene; deduces that someone is trying to keep her from Chimneys for some nefarious reason, recognizes the blackmailer as the thief of the letter, and helps remove the body. Who is this man? Why, Anthony Cade.

Virginia heads on to Chimneys to help smooth things over with McGrath and Prince Michael, the one brokering the oil deal.

That night, Anthony follows a note he found in the dead waiter’s pocket and heads to Chimneys. Exactly at the time specified he hears a shot. Who has been murdered? Who in the house is the murderer? Will they find the missing jewels? And who is this Anthony Cade?

So I don’t want to give the whole book away as you should really read it yourself. Instead I am going to go over our discussion, but there will be some spoilers.

**Spoiler Warning**

So the book contains 5 different plots

  1. The Memoirs of Count Stylpitch
    1. Everyone is afraid of what they might say and reveal to the world. All are after it to publish, surppress, discover, etc.
  2. The Blackmail of Virginia Revel
    1. Anthony is given letters written to a lover by a “Virginia Revel”. He hopes to return them, but they are stolen by a waiter who tries to use them to blackmail her.
    2. But in the end, it turns out that they are not really written by Virginia Revel at all, but someone is using her name.
  3. Vying for the Throne
    1. After the King and Queen of Herzoslovakia were assassinated, this left an empty hole on the throne. Prince Michael is a cousin to the deceased King and wants to become next to rule, but there is his cousin Nicholas who has a stronger tie and is in America who is also after the throne.
    2. But is his cousin really alive, or is this an impostor? And what about the revolutionaries who want no king?
  4. Missing Jewels
    1. Before Lord Caterham’s brother died, he had all the responsibilities of the land and parliament. He used to bring all kinds of officials to his home, Chimneys, and the King and Queen of Herzoslovakia stayed there, the Queen hiding the crown jewels that she stole somewhere on the property. They have been looking for them for years, but now hopefully Count Stiplych’s memiors will give them great clues to find the hiding place.
  5. Murder of Prince Michael
    1. Michael is shot in the night, but whodunit? With a household full of people there are plenty of suspects.

Something Agatha Christie always likes to stress in her books is how we never know people we meet, only what they tell us about them. When you meet someone for the first time and they tell you their history, you take it as is, never questioning them, but in reality they could be anyone. This is stressed in this book as well as their are numerous multiple identities. While all present themselves as something, a few characters hide who they really are:

  • Two characters are actually a prince
  • One is  a thief
  • One is a Pinkerton agent
  • One is an actress

Virginia is an amazing woman. She is living in the 1920s, but she does what she wants, refuses marriage for single life, assists in hunting down the murderer, is intelligent, capable, collected etc. She’s nobody’s fool.

“Why?’

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘I said why? You don’t boom the real English gentlewoman with every stray Canadian who sets foot upon our shores. What is the deep idea, George? To put it  vulgarly, what do you get out of it?’

‘I cannot see that that concerns you, Virginia.’

‘I couldn’t possibly go out for an evening and fascinate, unless I knew all the whys and wherefores.”

Virginia is a strong character who us not afraid to be feminine as well. I just love her.

And then Anthony Cade. Anthony is amazing. You just can’t help liking the man.

For more on The Secret of Chimneys, go to There Wouldn’t Be Any Difficulty in Finding a King: The Secret of Chimneys

For more Agatha Christie, go to With a Little Luck of the Irish: 17 More Irish Heroes

For more on my book club, go to I Started a Book Club

For more mysteries, go to Someone is Killing By Copying Old Murders!: Real Murders

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Murder is My Favorite Crime: Laura (1944)

Laura 1944

Murder is my favorite crime.

So I strongly contemplated whether or not I wanted to include this in my Horrorfest. It isn’t really a horror film but more of a mystery thriller, even better defined as a film-noir. I really wanted to include it but, since it wasn’t a real “horror film” I wasn’t sure if I should. But then I had a moment of clarity.

zenon zetus lupetos

This is my blog. I can do whatever I want!

Mal_huh Whoa Wow

So I decided I would.

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So this actually started out as a play and then was turned into a novel. Otto Preminger saw it as the perfect thing to turn into a film. It is known to be one of the best Film-Noir films along with one of the best mystery-thriller films of all time. AFI ranked it #4 on their list of the 10 greatest mystery films.

This film is also famous for Gene Tierney’s portrayal of Laura. This helped give her title of “Film-Noir Queen”.

So anyways, on to the film.

So it starts off with New York City police Detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews).

Det. Lt. Mark McPherson laura

He is investigating the death of the beautiful, successful, advertising executive Laura Hunt. Laura was murdered by a shotgun blast to the face.

Det. McPherson starts investigating and finds himself with multiple murder suspects and motives.

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1) Waldo Lybecker

Waldo Lybecker Laura Innocent

Waldo (Clifton Webb) is a famous columnist and he was the one who actually discovered Laura. She tried to get him to advertise something for him, and faster than you could say Pygmalion, he takes her under his wing and tries to change her and “improve” her.

“Waldo Lydecker: She was quick to seize upon anything that would improve her mind or her appearance. Laura had innate breeding, but she deferred to my judgment and taste. I selected a more attractive hairdress for her. I taught her what clothes were more becoming to her. Through me, she met everyone: The famous and the infamous. Her youth and beauty, her poise and charm of manner captivated them all. She had warmth, vitality. She had authentic magnetism. Wherever we went, she stood out. Men admired her; women envied her. She became as famous as Waldo Lydecker’s walking stick and his white carnation.”

But it goes a little more than that. Waldo becomes obsessed with Laura.

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Yep. He is in love with her and wants to be the only man. Every time some other guy came around he would find a way to criticize them and demean them. The two broke it off, but Laura was very upset with him.

Laura Angry Mad Upset

Laura started dating another guy, Shelby Carpenter. No matter what Waldo said, Laura wouldn’t listen to him. In fact she decided to marry him.

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Yep he was angry. Extremely upset about losing Laura to someone he thought was so unworthy? Angry enough to kill?

Sound suspicious

Hmm…

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2) Shelby Carpenter

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Shelby (played by Vincent Price) comes from great stock, has expensive tastes, and loves the high life. Only one problem, he has no money. None at all. Instead he has to use to his charms to court rich, older women and have them pay for his expenses. In fact he had found a real great giver in Ann Treadwell (Judith Anderson). That is until he met the very charismatic Laura. Not only is she the perfect cash cow to support him, but young and beautiful. Who could ask for anything more?

Shelby Carpenter: I knew there was something on my mind. Ah yes, will you dine with me tomorrow night?

Laura Hunt: Yes.

Shelby Carpenter: No, it’s not that – it’s the next night. And what about three weeks from tonight? And all the nights in between?

Laura Hunt: Shelby, you talk as if I had no other engagements!

Shelby Carpenter: And two months from now? And the month after that?

Laura Hunt: What about next year?

Shelby Carpenter: Oh, that’s all settled. What about breakfast?

Laura Hunt: What about dancing?

Shelby Carpenter: What about lunch? Beautiful lunches, day after day after day?”

The two starting dating and she gave him a job, one of which he didn’t have to do too much work. The two become engaged and all is well.

Sound suspicious

Or is it?

It turns out that Laura wasn’t the only person Shelby was seeing. He was going around with a lot of poor models. Rumor has it that Laura found out and was not happy…could he have killed her? If she was about to leave him high and dry, he might have become incensed and murdered her?

Laura Interviewing Shelby

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3) Ann Treadwell

Laura question

Ann Treadwell is the rich older aunt of Laura. She and Shelby had been in a relationship for a long time. She knew what he was, but that was what she wanted.

Laura what I want

When he left her for Laura, she was furious that her niece stole him away. Furious enough to kill?

Sound suspicious

Sound suspicious

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As Det. McPherson continues to delve into the clues and motives…he learns more and more about Laura. As he learns more and more he starts falling for Laura as well.

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One night Det. McPherson is at Laura’s apartment looking at her painting and trying to figure out the mystery, along with Laura. Why does she draw him to her?

When suddenly somebody comes crashing through.

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It’s Laura!!!

Laura Switch on you dames

But wait…

What!

But if that’s Laura? Who is…?

Who is the dead body?

They find out that the murdered girl is one of the models, Diane Redfern. The same model that Shelby was involved with.

Yep this leads Mark with another suspect…Laura

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4) Laura Hunt

Laura New Hat trying it on mirror

So we’ve heard how Laura rose from nothing to being the top girl. She was beautiful, smart, classy, etc. All women envined her and all men wanted her.

Laura Smart Intelligent woman Dopes

But then the guy she loves and is supposed to marry is running around with a model!!! Cheating on her!!!!

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She knew Diane was in love with Shelby, and she knew Shelby only cared about her money. She knew Shelby was taking models to her house and she could have gone after them and shot her for trying to mess with her man.

that girl is going after my man she is going to wish she was never born

Or she could be so angry at Shelby for cheating on him that she prepared a way to take care of him.

dialMforMurder Killer Hate

Instead of killing him, she could have killed Diane to make it look like Shelby and make him pay!

Does it seem too far-fetched? Well she wasn’t at the cabin when the cops looked that weekend. Her response “I was talking a walk.” She didn’t see the newspapers and come back saying she was alive? Or hear it on the radio? Her response: I don’t get a newspaper and my radio is broken.” Did anyone see you there? “Nobody”.

Being questioned police Annex - Tierney, Gene (Laura)_03

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What does this mean? Who is the killer?

You’ll have to watch the film to find out.

Laura

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To start Horrorfest III from the beginning, go to Even a Man Pure of Heart

For to the previous post, go to Every Time I Bring a Girl Over, You Try to Eat Her!

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For more on Laura (1944), go to All I Know About Trilogies is That in the Third One, All Bets are Off

For more on Vincent Price, go to The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind

For more mysteries, go to Quite a Horror Story

For more films based on books, go to But the Book, It Will Never Close…

For more films based on a play, go to Some People Are Just Born Evil