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The Secret of Chimneys

(Superintendent Battle #1)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  15,994 ratings  ·  1,061 reviews
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. Little did Anthony suspect that a simple errand to deliver the manuscript on behalf of his friend would drop him r ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published 2001 by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. (first published June 1925)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
The Secret of Chimneys (Superintendent Battle #1), Agatha Christie

The Secret of Chimneys is a work of detective fiction by Agatha Christie, first published June 1925.

Anthony Cade agrees to take on two jobs for his friend James McGrath. Anthony heads for London to deliver the draft of a memoir to a publisher, and to return letters to the woman who wrote them. In England, politician George Lomax persuades Lord Caterham to host a house party at Chimneys.

George's cousin Virginia Revel is invited,
May 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
Unlike other books, I reacted more strangely than usual in two ways. First, I checked previous reviews here. I had to because there was no guessing how received and how viewed this book was. Secondly, I had personal feelings in the matter of the hero. I almost never feel annoyance or jealousy at a Mary Sue, but here I thought of poor Bill and how he never had a chance.

The fact that Agatha Christie tried to give even him a happy ending - that came out wrong - is slightly annoying. The story trie
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Complete Hercule Poirot Novels: The Secret of Chimneys, Agatha Christie
The Secret of Chimneys is a work of detective fiction by Agatha Christie, first published in the UK by The Bodley Head in June 1925. It introduces the characters of Superintendent Battle and Lady Eileen "Bundle" Brent. At the request of George Lomax, Lord Caterham reluctantly agrees to host a weekend party at his home, Chimneys. A murder occurs in the house, beginning a week of fast-paced events with police among the gues
Jason Koivu
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Rather silly at times - sometimes intentionally, sometimes not - The Secret of Chimneys is not one of Agatha Christie's finest works. It is, however, an enjoyable enough read for mystery fans who like a throwback.

When a rather dashing young drifter accepts a friend's job on the prospect of quick cash, he gets himself into a deep bit of doo-doo. This murder mystery amongst the upper classes draws in political intrigue at a lord's estate. A random and playfully portrayed cast of characters popula
Manuel Antão
Nov 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1981
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Culture Change: "The Secret of Chimneys” by Agatha Christie

(Original Review, 1981-01-10)

By the time she died, few people probably remembered the casual Antisemitism of Agatha Christie's early books (try “The Secret of Chimneys”); the prejudice had ceased to be fashionable, and she'd stopped expressing it. Chesterton's antisemitism was deeper, and maybe he'd have kept it up longer; but his basic good sense and kindness would surely have
Apr 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
I was really surprised to see that this review has an average rating of almost 4 stars.

I like most Agatha Christie books but when Christie deviates from her standard mysteries into political and international intrigue-type stories she doesn't do it well (see also "They Came to Baghdad" which I actually thought was better than this). The characters are fake and the conspiracies and coincidences are way too fantastic to be believed. At multiple points I considered putting the book down and not fi
Feb 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
Finished it in one day. The amount of suspense and intrigue and the innumerable suspicious foreign characters had me racing through the pages. This was the first Superintendent Battle and he is the epitome of the British stiff upper lip- an impassive mask of a face in the most disastrous situations . The hero Anthony Cade with his nonchalant humor simply steals the show( I was reminded of Bertie Wooster of P.G.Wodehouse.). But the end left me with a tinge of disappointment. I sort of anticipate ...more
K.J. Charles
Hmph. Very early Christie, and very much in the pulp adventure genre rather than murder mystery. International conspiracies, jewel thefts, comedy mittelEuropeans, everyone pretending to be someone else, modern gels, really incredibly obvious Drama Plot Twist, and all the fun of the fair, but rendered unlovable by spectacular racism and antisemitism throughout. Read early Patricia Wentworth instead.
Deborah Ideiosepius
I have been re-reading a lot of Agatha Christie over the last couple of years, some have stood the test of time better than others and this is one of the better ones. It would be three and a half stars if possible.

In The Secret of Chimneys, Christie once again forsakes her 'traditional' heroes of Poirot and Miss Marple, while it is listed in compilations as 'Inspector Battle #1' Battle himself is not a central character at all, rather he is a foil for the main characters.

Chimneys is an ingenious
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Jun 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susanna - Censored by GoodReads by: Miss Thompson
Shelves: mystery, long-weekend
It's like Agatha Christie was given a plot outline by P.G. Wodehouse and decided to run with it.
Mar 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Waiting two months to decide how to summarize “The Secret Of Chimneys” makes it harder, with its deluge of background details. Reviewers dismissing books as “a quick read” drive me bonkers. What a non-compliment to complexity. 1925 puts Agatha Christie early in her career. So much is pertinent to politicians, royalty, and the English in Africa; I wonder if by irony, Agatha was not thinking globally and imaged her readers were British. Instead of a generic mystery; hers crammed-in detail specific ...more
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: agatha-christie
I enjoyed this early Agatha Christie (1925) introducing Scotland Yards Battle. The story is very tongue in cheek and funny. Anthony Cade is an adventurer who is currently a tour guide in Zimbabwe or Rhodesia back then. A friend asks him to deliver a politically sensitive Herzoslovakian manuscript of memoirs and a bundle of blackmailing letters to England.

We then follow his adventures with getting is share of the 1000 pounds for delivering the manuscript the publishers in London and returning th
Nov 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
My first Agatha Christie book.Maybe I am exhilarated at the moment after finishing the book and gave it a four but personally there are a lot of things that bothered me a trifle such as the repeated references to Sherlock Holmes and some racial slurs. The reason might be the mindset of the people during her(Agatha Christie's)days.
As expected from her,the twists and the turns in the last 50 pages or so kept me gripping. Her writing style is concise with a plot consisting of interesting characte
The Secret of Chimneys was published in 1925. It was Christie's 5th and last book released by her first publisher, The Bodley Head. She wanted out of her contract with them....and frankly, I think this book was a bit of a rush job to finish out that contract. It introduces Superintendent Battle and a handful of other characters that appear in later stories (especially The Seven Dials published in 1929) and the international thriller/mystery plot is interesting enough. But for me, this story just ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
**4.5 stars**

What a witty book. I laughed out loud from beginning to end. Engaging characters and a really good plot. This was really early in Dame Christie's career and although we have her usual great twists (I figured out the best one though) it's not what you would call typical Christie - there was something about the style that reminded me of Dorothy Sayers. It was so much fun though, specially if you like dry humor, and the narration by Hugh Fraser was simply marvelous. Probably the best h
Christine PNW
Apr 19, 2020 rated it liked it
This is maybe the fourth time I've read The Secret of Chimneys. It's not a top tier Christie - first of all, it really isn't a puzzle mystery. It straddles the line between straight mystery and thriller. The clues are obscure, sometimes to the point of impenetrability, Christie hasn't mastered either pacing or character in this early offering, and there are a lot of cliches here.

The thing about Chimneys, though, is that it is solid gold British comfort read for me. As a mystery it is lacking, bu
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Anthony Cade agrees to undertake a commission for an old friend but he soon finds himself involved in something much more complex and more serious than he expected. A variety of people try to get hold of the manuscript which he is delivering to a London publisher in a variety of ways.

But all the plotting and planning leads the various protagonists to a complex denouement at a country house called Chimneys where Superintendent Battle and a man from the French police as well as various other peop
Simona B
Jan 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Deliciously, entertainingly, ridiculously clichéd. The Christie touch can make enjoyable also plots this fanciful, I suppose. And Anthony Cade is such a likable character.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vikas Singh
Apr 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: owned-book
I re read this after a gap of ten years. The world of detectives and fiction writing gas changed so much since then. A life long Agatha Christie fan I found this one quite boring. It was thru sheer perseverance that i could manage to complete the book. There are huge gaps in the story line and the end is dull. The mystery of theft of Kohinoor is almost forced down the throat. The reference to the hiding place is not so cryptic and the reader is purposefully doled out irrelevant bits of info to k ...more
Jammin Jenny
I really enjoyed this book and the new character (to me) from Agatha Christie. In this book, we meet Superintendent Battle who is called in to try to unravel a mystery at an old English manse. There was a French person there (reminded me of Poirot), and secret tunnels and buried treasure. Nice introduction to a new series. I'll try more.
I can honestly say that I will probably never re-read this book in the future. It was honestly a trial to get through. The first 50 or so pages made no sense and then things get a bit smoother when Superintendent Battle arrives on the scene. But honestly, he is not even needed in this story since once again another person solves the crimes that are central to this story. I found the ending to be ridiculous and pretty implausible.

The central figure in this story is Anthony Cade. When the book beg
Nov 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Agatha Christie, one of the greatest mystery writers of all time - some would say the greatest - was one author whose works I found too creepy to read when I was a kid. (I have to blame this on my sis; she used to feed me Christie's stories when we were alone in our room at night with the lights turned off etc - and when images of dead bodies and children being murdered while bobbing for apples can be quite traumatising and scar one for life:D)

Anyway, when my interest in Agatha Christie was reki
Sep 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Secret of Chimneys is my final entry for the Cozy Mystery Challenge and I’m glad I ended with it because the whole story is just so cosy and a perfect example of the genre. It has a grand ancestral house with secret passages, mysterious deaths, famous thieves, compromising documents, disguised identities and fun characters. I really enjoyed it!

Somewhere in Africa, in the 1920s (the book was published in 1925) two friends meet and have a strange conversation about stolen love letters and the
Aug 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had completely forgotten this first Superintendent Battle mystery. Quite fun with Balkan politics, international jewel thieves, blackmail and possible impostors, not to mention a murder or two!

Hugh Fraser does a marvelous narration.
Battle smiled again. "Take it like this. I'm doing you a favor because you've made a favorable impression on me, Mr. Cade. I'd like you to work in with me over this case. The amateur and the professional, they go well together. The one has the intimacy, so to speak, and the other the experience."
"Well," said Anthony slowly, "I don't mind admitting that I've always wanted to try my hand at unraveling a murder mystery."
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-author
I love Agatha Christie books like this! The spy story... the many suspects... the romance.... Much fun to be had! I know people are either Poirot or Miss Marple fans. But I'm a fan of the standalones, the detective thrown into a mystery, and the sinister foreigners from countries that are thinly veiled representations of real countries!
Charlotte Smith
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: agatha-christie
This book was okay, one that went here there and everywhere. It was hard keeping up with the story and what was happening. Always thought that Anthony crab was up to something but not sure what it was.
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This, on the other hand, I absolutely adore. It's got that Christie oddball strangeness you find in some of her more outlandish books - the plot goes to some weird places - but the tone and atmosphere are so well done, and the personalities are so distinct and funny, that I'm always so entertained when I read this.

The mystery is almost irrelevant here. It's the people that matter.
Sarah Sammis
May 27, 2009 rated it liked it
The Secret of Chimneys: 05/06/05
The political upheavals of WWI seemed to have inspired a great many popular fiction books in the years before WWII started to gear up. Many of these books take a rather humorous and satirical approach to the machinations of one country to control the flow of events of another country. The Secret of Chimneys is Agatha Christie's contribution to this "genre."

Ignoring the romantic ending, The Secret of Chimneys is a political satire that pokes fun at the British Em
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Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan.

Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote 66 crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and six novels under a pseudonym in Romance. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and a billion in t

Other books in the series

Superintendent Battle (5 books)
  • The Seven Dials Mystery (Superintendent Battle, #2)
  • Cards on the Table (Hercule Poirot, #15)
  • Murder Is Easy  (Superintendent Battle, #4)
  • Towards Zero (Superintendent Battle, #5)

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