The Secret of Chimneys (1925), Christie's third novel, comes from the period when romance was almost as important to her as crime. Each of the guests at Chimneys, a country estate, is suspected of the murder of a foreign nobleman. Two of the accused, a young widowed aristocrat and a young man of seemingly dubious background, find themselves falling in love as they join forces to solve the case. Blackmail, a politician's memoirs, and a notorious thief, are mixed expertly into the highly entertaining plot. A French detective and a no-nonsense English cop seem to be prototypes for Hercule Poirot and Inspector Japp, who look into the puzzling death of Hercule's dentist in One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, from 1940. Hercule must solve the crime while preventing further deaths, with prominent financier Alistair Blunt a much-threatened target. As wonderful as Hugh Fraser is as Captain Hastings in the television adaptations of the Poirot tales, he is even better as the reader of both novels. Highly recommended for popular collections.-Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.