Anthony Cade is a typical good-natured, rather shiftless upper crust British gentleman drifter. He always seems to have enough cash for smokes, a drink or two and a little travel and adventure but he never seems to actually DO anything. When Jimmy McGrath, a buddy in Africa, offers him the opportunity to earn some easy cash by delivering the memoirs of a recently deceased European count to his publisher in London, Cade simply can't resist the opportunity. But his discovery that the papers are far more sinister than a simple set of memoirs leads Cade and his friends into a twisted merry international romp that includes murder, blackmail, international intrigue, romance, mistaken identity and diplomatic shenanigans revolving around an improbable fictional nation called Herzoslovakia.
THE SECRET OF CHIMNEYS is classic Agatha Christie on the light hearted side - a twisted mystery with convoluted humour and romance worthy of the best comedic mix-ups and farces ever concocted by Shakespeare in his lighter plays. The characters are magnificently developed British classic stereotypes - Anthony Cade, the manly, inimitable and absolutely unflappable male lead; Virginia Revel, the strong, quite beautiful and clever heroine; George Lomax, the well-meaning but entirely too procedure bound, earnest civil servant; Bill Eversleigh, the rather more hapless British gentleman hopelessly infatuated with a lady who wants only to be his friend; the Marquis of Caterham, the laughably pompous and long-suffering, utterly hidebound British aristocrat who sniffs his way through life wondering what the world is coming to; and, of course, an entire army of swarthy foreigners intent on furthering their nefarious political goals by whatever nasty means are presented.
Although not quite as well-known as Agatha Christie's more famous creations, Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple, Superintendent Battle of Scotland Yard, another of Christie's recurring characters makes his first investigative appearance here in THE SECRET OF CHIMNEYS.
The cast is crowded and the twists and turns in a convoluted plot are plentiful but, like Shakespeare's A COMEDY OF ERRORS or ALLS WELL THAT ENDS WELL, everything turns out in the end and all of the loose ends are neatly tied. THE SECRET OF CHIMNEYS is vintage Christie and a mystery that any fan of the genre will enjoy thoroughly. Highly recommended. (And if you enjoyed this one, much of the cast returns for an encore performance in THE SEVEN DIALS MYSTERY).