As I mentioned when I reviewed Christie’s last two books, many literature critics proclaim that, while a gifted writer, Christie met her Waterloo with thrillers. However, I believe that those people completely miss the point of Christie’s thrillers – she wasn’t taking them seriously.
That’s possibly why they’re actually among my favorites of her stories. They are full of fun and froth, and slyly poke fun at all the serious thrillers of the time. Christie haphazardly throws everything into this story – secret societies and dramatic Russian women, masked meetings and perfectly-timed coincidences. She ties it all together with a large dose of hilarity bordering on Wodehouse levels at time, and throws in an actual decent mystery underneath of it all.
Anyone who reads the first chapter of The Seven Dials Mystery and genuinely believes that Christie was trying to write a serious, thoughtful thriller is completely devoid of any kind of sense of humor.
The room was empty save for his hostess, and her reproachful gaze gave Jimmy the same feeling of discomfort he always experienced on catching the eye of a defunct codfish exposed on a fisherman’s slab.
I mean, if that doesn’t sound as though it was lifted directly from some of Wodehouse’s work, I don’t know what does.
The point is, The Seven Dials Mystery is a great story. It’s full of intrigue and mysterious people and secret clubs and back rooms and hidden passageways. Some of the characters are the same ones that were in the background of Christie’s last book, The Secret of Chimneys, including the owner of Chimneys, Lord Caterham, who is a favorite of mine.
This is a great book, full of fun and frolic, and not remotely serious. And that is precisely what makes it so very brilliant.