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.
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.
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.
So the book contains 5 different plots
- The Memoirs of Count Stylpitch
- Everyone is afraid of what they might say and reveal to the world. All are after it to publish, surppress, discover, etc.
- The Blackmail of Virginia Revel
- 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.
- But in the end, it turns out that they are not really written by Virginia Revel at all, but someone is using her name.
- Vying for the Throne
- 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.
- But is his cousin really alive, or is this an impostor? And what about the revolutionaries who want no king?
- Missing Jewels
- 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.
- Murder of Prince Michael
- 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.
‘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