A “regrettable necessity for cash” has led Anthony Cade to work as a tour guide to a group of British citizens in Bulawayo Africa. So, when his friend Jimmy McGrath makes him an offer of a bit of adventure and quick cash, he accepts without hesitation. First, he is to deliver a manuscript to a London publisher. The manuscript contains the memoirs of recently deceased Count Stylpitch, and may hold secrets that several political factions would rather not be published. His second task, to return a package of love letters to the hands of their author, Mrs. Virginia Revel. It all seems simple enough, until Cade is approached by various individuals determined to obtain the memoirs, and then the letters are stolen. Cade discovers a surprising connection between the manuscript and the letters which leads him to the famed Chimneys estate where he finds not just political intrigue, but murder.
Chimneys is a fun, fast-paced country house mystery with a storyline that is jammed full of subplots, red herrings and plot twists. A stately English country home playing host to a diplomatic gathering becomes the scene for murder of a royal personage and the search for a long missing jewel. And it’s all complicated by missing and potentially sensitive memoirs, blackmail, and political intrigue surrounding the small fictional Balkan state of Herzoslovakia.
Christie keeps the waters muddy with a variety of ingenious characters, many of whom are not what they seem. There’s a handsome, enigmatic adventurer, a beautiful aristocratic Englishwoman, an unflappable Scotland Yard Inspector, arrogant foreign royals, powerful financiers, and overly inquisitive American guests. The supporting cast of a puffed-up politician, staid butler, grumbling suitor, vengeful royal servant, and long-suffering British nobleman makes it all the more entertaining.
Combine all of this with sparkling intelligent dialogue, often spoken with tongue firmly planted in cheek, and you have a delightfully entertaining mystery.
My Judgment – 4.25/5
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza—2014 Bingo—Read one country house mystery