The Seven Dials Mystery: “That amiable youth, Jimmy Thesiger, came racing down the big staircase at Chimneys two steps at a time.”
Detective: Superintendent Battle, Lady Eileen Brent (Bundle)
Published: January 24, 1929 (10th published book)
Length: 282 pages
Setting: Chimneys, London
Chimneys, the estate we became acquainted with in The Secret of Chimneys, is again the scene of mystery and murder. At the time, Lord Brent and his daughter Lady Eileen “Bundle” Brent had let Chimneys to Sir Oswald Coote and Lady Coote, but when a prank turns to the murder of a young guest, Gerry Wade, the owners return and Bundle is determined to investigate the killer. Another unexpected murder sends her to seek the assistance of two young men, who were original guests at the house at the time of the initial murder, Bill Eversleigh and Jimmy Thesiger, but who should come on the scene but her old friend Superindendent Battle who was instrumental in solving the first mystery at Chimneys. A reference to the Seven Dials from the second murdered man in his dying breath leads her to a disreputable club and gambling den in London, where a spy ring appears to be meeting. Our intrepid Bundle hides in a cupboard but of the participants, from number one to seven, Number Seven, who appears to be their leader, is missing.
There is the puzzle of the eight clocks that were set to ring to awake Gerry Wade that fateful night, yet one of them is missing. Who is the mysterious Number Seven of the gang of spies? And will a German inventor’s invention be stolen before Superintendent Battle can intervene? From private estates to seedy London gaming clubs the plot unravels until the real brains behind a truly sinister plan can be revealed.
With the publishing of The Seven Dials Mystery, Christie had to withstand some wilting criticism. Many disliked her departure from a methodical, clue-riddled, deductive mystery to a somewhat frivolous caper that included a mysterious international spy ring and more fantastical conspiracy. She was rounded condemned for withholding pertinent plot information from the reader, and a revelation surrounding one character was labelled “utterly preposterous”.
There were parts of this book I loved and parts of it I didn’t. Firstly, I was so happy to see the return of Bundle from The Secret of Chimneys. In Chimneys, we get a taste of Bundle’s character, but here her character shone through, her wit, her intelligence, and her pluck and determination in the face of adversity. While her station made her an unusual sleuth, her personality was perfect for investigating the crime, assisting the police, finding the criminal and bringing him to justice. Now, what I didn’t like ………. good grief, Christie DOES seem to be on a secret society spy tangent. The story certainly wasn’t a methodical detective story but the over-the-top drama and impossible intrigue detracted from the positive aspects of the novel. Still, all-in-all, it was a satisfying read. Now back to our intrepid sleuths, Tommy and Tuppence from The Secret Adversary, in Christie’s next mystery, Partners in Crime.
⇐ The Mystery of the Blue Train Partners in Crime ⇒