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The Secret of Chimneys

By Agatha Christie

“Gentleman Joe!”

“Why, if it isn’t old Jimmy McGrath.”

Castle’s Select Tour, represented by seven depressed-looking females and three perspiring males, looked on with considerable interest. Mr. Cade had met an old friend. They all admired Mr. Cade so much, his tall, lean figure, his sun-tanned face, the light-hearted manner with which he settled disputes and persuaded them all into a good temper. This friend of his now—indeed, instead, a peculiar-looking man. About the same height as Mr. Cade but thickset and not nearly so good-looking. The sort of man one read about in books, who probably kept a saloon. Interesting, though. After all, that was what one came abroad for—to see all these peculiar things one read about in books. Up to now, they had been rather bored with Bulawayo. The sun was unbearably hot, the hotel was uncomfortable, and there seemed to be nowhere to go until we arrived to motor to the Matoppos. Very fortunately, Mr. Cade had suggested picture postcards. There was an excellent supply of picture postcards.

Anthony Cade and his friend had stepped a little apart.

“What the hell are you doing with this pack of females?” demanded McGrath. “Starting a harem.”

“Not with this little lot,” grinned Anthony. “Have you taken a good look at them?”

“I have that. Thought maybe you were losing your eyesight.”

“My eyesight’s as good as ever. No, this is a Castle’s Select Tour. I’m Castle—the local Castle, I mean.”

“What the hell made you take on a job like that?”

“A regrettable necessity for cash. I can assure you it doesn’t suit my temperament.”

Jimmy grinned.

“Never a hog for regular work, were you?”

Anthony ignored this aspersion.

“However, I expect something will turn up soon,” he remarked hopefully. “It usually does.”

Jimmy chuckled.

“If there’s any trouble brewing, Anthony Cade will surely be in it sooner or later. I know that,” he said. “You have an absolute instinct for rows—and a cat’s nine lives. When can we have a yarn together?”

Anthony sighed.

“I’ve got to take these cackling hens to see Rhodes’s grave.”

“That’s the stuff,” said Jimmy approvingly. “They’ll come back bumped black and blue with the ruts in the road and clamoring for the bed to rest the bruises on. Then you and I will have a spot or two and exchange the news.”

“Right. So long, Jimmy.”

Anthony rejoined his flock of sheep. Miss Taylor, the youngest and most skittish of the party, instantly attacked him.

“Oh, Mr. Cade, was that an old friend of yours?”

“It was Miss Taylor. One of the friends of my blameless youth.”

Miss Taylor giggled.

“I thought he was such an interesting-looking man.”

“I’ll tell him you said so.”

“Oh, Mr. Cade, how can you be so naughty! The very idea! What was that name he called you?”

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Agatha Christie

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE (15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.


She also wrote the world’s longest-running play, the murder mystery The Mousetrap, which has been performed in the West End since 1952. A writer during the “Golden Age of Detective Fiction”, Christie has been called the “Queen of Crime”. She also wrote six novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. In 1971, she was made a Dame (DBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for her contributions to literature. Guinness World Records lists Christie as the best-selling fiction writer of all time, her novels having sold more than two billion copies.

Christie was born into a wealthy upper-middle-class family in Torquay, Devon, and was largely home-schooled. She was initially an unsuccessful writer with six consecutive rejections, but this changed in 1920 when The Mysterious Affair at Styles, featuring detective Hercule Poirot, was published. Her first husband was Archibald Christie; they married in 1914 and had one child before divorcing in 1928. Following the breakdown of her marriage and the death of her mother in 1926, she made international headlines by going missing for eleven days. During both World Wars, she served in hospital dispensaries, acquiring a thorough knowledge of the poisons that featured in many of her novels, short stories, and plays. Following her marriage to archaeologist Max Mallowan in 1930, she spent several months each year on digs in the Middle East and used her first-hand knowledge of this profession in her fiction.

According to UNESCO’s Index Translationum, she remains the most-translated individual author. Her novel And Then There Were None is one of the top-selling books of all time, with approximately 100 million copies sold. Christie’s stage play The Mousetrap holds the world record for the longest initial run. It opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End on 25 November 1952, and by 2018 there had been more than 27,500 performances. The play was temporarily closed in 2020 because of COVID-19 lockdowns in London before it reopened in 2021.

In 1955, Christie was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award. Later that year, Witness for the Prosecution received an Edgar Award for best play. In 2013, she was voted the best crime writer and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd the best crime novel ever by 600 professional novelists of the Crime Writers’ Association. In 2015, And Then There Were None was named the “World’s Favourite Christie” in a vote sponsored by the author’s estate. Many of Christie’s books and short stories have been adapted for television, radio, video games, and graphic novels. More than 30 feature films are based on her work.

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie