Book Review: The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie (1925)

Synopsis: When Anthony Cade agrees to travel from Africa to London and deliver a controversial manuscript that may have political implications, he isn't surprised when he encounters resistance. However, when the presumed heir to the throne of a small Balkan country is murdered, he ends up being the focus of the two detectives investigating the crime and must find a way to catch the real killer so he can clear his name.
Review: I started reading this Agatha Christie novel a couple weeks ago and, to be honest, when I first started reading it, I thought it would be one I wouldn't enjoy all that much.

Part of the reason for this is, with the various political and criminal plot points, ranging from selecting a new king of a foreign country to hidden diamonds and a master thief who was a master of disguise, I was concerned the book would become a little too bogged down and confusing. Plus, there were so many characters involved in this story, I did, admittedly find it hard at times to keep track of who was who and sometimes forgot other characters even existed.

As I got further into the book, however, I was admittedly won over by it. I think a large part of the reason for that was, while there were a variety of different things going on, I had a suspicion they were all connected somehow. Plus, as the book progressed and the various supporting characters kept pointing out nobody really knew all that much about Anthony Cane (including the reader), I did begin to wonder if there was more to him than he seemed. If nothing else, it wouldn't have surprised me if Christie had made him the bad guy.

The murder mystery itself was one that definitely had me stumped too. Christie did an excellent job covering up the killer's trail by introducing various theories that (seemingly) turned out to be dead ends and throwing in one or two red herrings for good measure. In fact, the one person I suspected from the start of the book until nearly the end turned out to be someone completely opposite of what I thought he was. Of course, even if I had been right, I had no idea what his motive was. This, in turn, kept me reading.

My only real complaint about the book (other than Christie's typical "let's get married after just meeting" twist) was I thought the ending was a bit drawn out. I think having the hero kiss the girl would have been an excellent way of ending things and, instead, I had read through another chapter that really didn't add a whole lot to the story. I would have loved to have seen that last chapter edited out as a result, though, admittedly, it wasn't long enough to make a huge difference.

Final Opinion: This book took a little bit to get going but, once it did, it was interesting enough to keep me reading. And, I definitely found myself enjoying the mystery and the surprise twist at the end.

My Grade: B


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