Series: Superintendent Battle #2
Publisher: William Collins & Sons
Released: January 24, 1929
Gerry Wade had proved himself to be a champion sleeper; so the other house guests decided to play a practical joke on him. Eight alarm clocks were set to go off, one after the other, starting at 6.30 a.m. But when morning arrived, one clock was missing and the prank had backfired with tragic consequences.
For Jimmy Thesiger in particular, the words ‘Seven Dials’ were to take on a new and chilling significance.
Normally when I read an Agatha Christie I expect a good mystery with a bit of a story around it. That’s why The Seven Dials Mystery really surprised me, it actually felt like a story which happened to have a mystery in it. It also had another quality that took me off guard. It is consistently funny. It does that wonderful thing of being effortlessly humorous in an understated, very British, way. The characters are wonderful, and the story flows well.
The mystery, however, does not quite live up to the story.
My main problem with the mystery in this book is that it is just too farfetched. The fact that the characters joke about how unlikely everything seems doesn’t make it seem any less unlikely. The revelations aren’t obvious or unsurprising, but for some reason they are presented in a way which I found to be oddly devoid of impact. Perhaps I would mind less if the book were by a different author. However, from Agatha Christie I tend to expect a mystery that, while it might be a little out there, at least doesn’t require the reader to suspend their disbelief too much or too often.
I therefore feel a little strange about this probably being one of my favourite Agatha Christie books to date. I really liked it, but for all the wrong reasons. I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone craving a good Christie mystery, but I wouldn’t hesitate recommending it to anyone who just wants a very entertaining, very English, quick read.
I’ll be continuing to read the Christie books in the order they were published. If this is an indication of the style she used in this era of her writing, and it is combined with the type of mysteries I know from her later books, I have a feeling that I might really, really, enjoy the next few Christie books I get around to reading.