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4.4 out of 5 stars
46
The Secret of Chimneys: Complete & Unabridged
Format: Audio CD|Change
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 August 2016
In my early teens, some forty years ago now, I encountered Agatha Christie’s novels, and, as is perhaps customary with teenage obsession, started working through them, as if driven to complete the set as quickly as possible. One of the first of her books that I read was this one, The Secret of Chimneys, and at the time I thought it was about as good as literature could get.

It features neither Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple (although the recent television adaptation did recast it as one of Miss Marple’s cases), and it isn’t even a true whodunit, being instead a simple thriller, straight out of the John Buchan mould. Certainly all the key ingredients of a boisterous story are there – stolen jewels, beautiful but mysterious women, a stately home and quasi-Balkan intrigue (it was, after all, written just a few years after the end of the First World War when the map of Europe had been redrawn under the auspices of Versailles, and newly-minted states were strewn across the continent) and a handsome, intelligent and boundlessly gallant hero thrown in. Sadly, other clichés of the 1920s shocker are also to the fore, and the book is shot through with casual anti-Semitism manifested through a succession of throwaway remarks from most of the characters.

The story does rattle along, and I could see why I enjoyed it so much at the age of thirteen. Forty years on I found it rather irritating. None of the characters displayed any vestige of realism. Of course, one doesn’t read Agatha Christie for her gritty verisimilitude, but this book also lacked her lightness of touch with regard both to characters and plot. It was one of her ealier books, and she was clearly still getting to grips with the genre.
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VINE VOICEHALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 30 December 2012
First published in 1925, this is the first Christie novel to feature Superintendent Battle (he appeared in a further four novels: The Seven Dials Mystery (Masterpiece Edition),Cards on the Table (Poirot),Murder Is Easy (Agatha Christie Collection) and Towards Zero (Agatha Christie Collection). The novel is in many ways a typical country house farce, involving many aliases, royalty, blackmail, secret assignations, jewel thieves, murder and general confusion. The story begins when Anthony Cade is given a manuscript to deliver to London by his old friend Jimmy McGrath, along with some letters to be returned to a blackmail victim. Along the way Cade is attacked, robbed and becomes involved with some high level meetings at the country house Chimneys involving the royal family of Herzoslovakia. Virtually nobody is who they are supposed to be and the plot is almost too involved to explain. However, the whole thing is great fun and people take the most astounding events with great calm and English reserve, making this a very enjoyable read indeed.
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on 13 December 2010
I love this story! Admittedly it is more light-hearted than the more familiar classic Christie mysteries, but it's so well done. It has a complicated plot, in a good way, with lots of good characters. The pompous patriotic Lomax, thorn in the flesh of the bumbling lacksadaisical Lord Caterham, who in turn is the father of the live wire that is Lady Eileen "Bundle" Brent, to name but three, all jump off the page. This unabridged audio version is wonderful, read by the excellent Hugh Fraser with just the right light touch. Only the best narrators can "do" all the voices both distinctly and convincingly, especially the opposite sex. I doubt that you will guess whodunnit, and even if you do, there are still more secrets to be revealed at chimneys.
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on 15 March 2012
Fans of Christie's mature mysteries might be disappointed, as this is more of a comedy spy thriller than a classic who-dunnit. However, as a period piece it is fascinating, and while the writer has clearly been influenced by PG Wodehouse, we can see the seeds of Christie's later skilful characterisation developing in such memorable creations as Virginia Revel. If you can suspend disbelief and think yourself back into the non-p.c.world of the British Empire of the 1920s, you are in for an escapist treat.
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on 25 July 2013
Whilst I enjoyed this book, I did find it more of a complex read than the more well known books I've read of hers. This involves anything from politics to murder to espionage and theft. Difficult to summarise what this book is about as there is a lot going on with a few twists and turns that are rather unexpected to the reader.

Easy book to read. Would recommend.
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on 13 January 2017
Super !!!
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on 5 March 2016
As good and attention grabbing as I expect and enjoy from Agatha Christie.
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on 24 November 2015
I loved every page of it.Thank you. Well written.
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on 19 February 2018
Very quick and pleased
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on 25 July 2014
Great story. If you have seen the film then you will be confused when reading the book as the film is nothing like the book. The book is great and fun to read.
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