This month I have chosen to read The Seven Dials Mystery as part of the Read Christie 2021 challenge. The remit for this month was to read a story which was written before World War II. There are a number to choose from but I chose The Seven Dials Mystery because I haven’t read this book for decades. I have to say that I absolutely loved revisiting it and read it in one day, which is something I hardly every do!
This is very much a ‘young person’s adventure’ plot and also sees Christie returning to some of the characters who had their first adventure in The Secret of Chimneys. If you have read Chimneys, and recognise the mansion, you’ll probably also recognise the name of Lady Eileen Brent, commonly known as Bundle, who lives at Chimneys with her father and is irrepressible in her pursuit of the truth.
This time, Bundle and her father come back from a holiday abroad to find that a man belonging to a party of people who were renting Chimneys has died in one of their bedrooms. It certainly makes Bundle’s father give second thoughts to renting out their home while they are away in future!
It doesn’t take long for Bundle and her adventurous friends to decide that this man was murdered. The situation becomes graver when another friend dies, his last words being the mysterious ‘seven dials’.
This phrase takes Bundle and her crime-busting friends to Soho, and the discovery of masked members of The Seven Dials Society, who meet in a secret room. Who are they, and what are they planning? And were they responsible for the killings?
This book also reintroduces Superintendent Battle, who occurs in several Christie novels as the presiding investigating officer. Battle is a large man but with a very astute, softly-softly approach to getting things done. Battle acts as an enabler to Bundle’s wish to act as sleuth by giving her permission to do so, and often both of them are present as events pile up and things get most and more mysterious – and dangerous. But Bundle proves herself extremely capable of figuring out what’s been going on, surprising Battle on more than one occasion with her capabilities.
This is very much a relatively fast-moving adventure with plenty of intrigue, secrets and shenanigans. There are also some very wry twists in the plot that couldn’t help but make me smile. So much of this story is like real life in that whatever we see and believe is based on what we expect to be the case and on our preconceptions about people.
If you love Christie’s light-hearted adventure mystery novels then I think you’ll enjoy this one. Next month’s Read Christie book has to be one which features tea. I’m going to return to my favourite of Christie’s sleuths – Poirot – in After the Funeral.
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