Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie

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The Secret of Chimneys
by Agatha Christie

Hardback: 232 pages
Publisher: Dodd, Mead & Company, Inc.
First Released: 1925

Source: Library

Back Cover Blurb:
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 many people believe the memoirs hold scandalous royal secrets which they would do anything to suppress. Anthony Cade is also given a stash of letters (to, like a gentleman, return to the original letter-writer) that suggest blackmail. His only clue to find the letter-writer is an address, a rambling estate named Chimneys, where he finds dark secrets and deadlier threats.

I've heard Agatha Christie's books described as 'for those who like logic puzzles,' which is true. Well, this book not only has the mystery of who the murder is, but questions as to who steals the letters and the manuscript, who the mysterious thief, King Victor, is disguised as, and more.

I was able to guess some of the answers, but not all of them, and the story was very clever. The characters were all very enjoyable. The pacing and the suspense were good. There was no sex, and the cussing was minimal. Overall, I would recommend this novel as 'good, clean fun.'

Excerpt: Chapter One
"Gentleman Joe!"

"Why, if it isn't old Jimmy McGrath."

Castle's Select Tour, represented by seven depressed-looking females and three perspiring males, looked on with considerable interest. Evidently their Mr. Cade had met an old friend. They all admired Mr. Cade so much, his tall lean figure, his sun-tanned face, the light-hearted manner with which he settle disputes and cajoled them all into good temper. This friend now--surely rather a peculiar-looking man. About the same height as Mr. Cade, but thickset and not nearly so good-looking. The sort of man one read about in books, who probably kept a saloon. Interesting, though. After all, that was what one came abroad for--to see all these peculiar things one read about in books. Up to now, they had been rather bored with Bulawayo. The sun was unbearably hot, the hotel was uncomfortable, there seemed to be nowhere particular to go until the moment should arrive to motor to the Matoppos. Very fortunately, Mr. Cade had suggested picture postcards. There was an excellent supply of picture postcards.

Anthony Cade and his friend had stepped a little apart.

"What the hell are you doing with this pack of females?" demanded McGrath. "Starting a harem?"

"Not with this lot," grinned Anthony. "Have you taken a good look at them?"

"I have that. Thought maybe you were losing your eyesight."

"My eyesight's as good as ever it was. No, this is a Castle's Select Tour. I'm Castle--the local Castle, I mean."

"What the hell made you take on a job like that?"

"A regrettable necessity for cash. I can assure you it doesn't suit my temperament."

Jimmy grinned. "Never a hog for regular work, were you?"

Anothony ignored this aspersion. "However, something will turn up soon, I expect," he remarked hopefully. "It usually does."

Jimmy chuckled. "If there's any trouble brewing, Anthony Cade is sure to be in it sooner or later, I know that," he said. "You've an absolute instinct for rows--and the nine lives of a cat. When can we have a yarn together?"

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