The Seven Dials Mystery, Hardback
5 out of 5 (1 rating)


A healthy young man dies in his sleep despite the ringing of eight alarm clocks...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...


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic crime
  • ISBN: 9780007354580



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1929, 2nd of 2 Bundle Brent, rural Chimneys manor house, and London; wonderfully trippy 1920s frothy semi-spy thriller, nicely calibrated and atmospheric, still fun; one of my all-time favorite AC novels.<br/><br/>A pack of Bright Young Things is visiting Chimneys, a gloriously huge and old manor house in rural England, in the late 1920s. Most of them decide to play a joke on one of their lot, a terminally late sleeper whose lateness in the mornings has annoyed not a few people. Unfortunately, the joke goes sour when the young man is found to be, um, "terminal" - dying from supposedly having taken too much of a sleeping draught! <br/><br/>We are slowly drawn into the plot by nicely dropped clues left for several protagonists, and get to follow them around the countryside and London as they attempt to unravel what the young man was really up to in his supposedly indolent life, and find many odd things just under the surface. This leads to the banding together of four of them, who work sometimes together (and sometimes in opposition) to come to the correct conclusions. <br/><br/>It's a thrilling ride, but stagey in many spots, plus the solution is laid out at the end with only explication, not showing the actual capture of the final culprit (the film does show this, and it's a great scene). And, unfortunately, Christie here succumbs to a 1920s trope - withholding important information from the reader - while her cluing is mostly fair, she saves one big twist as a final shocker at the end that she doesn't telegraph anywhere in the novel. But if you can overlook those (to me) small things, this is a fun read, entertaining and totally unbelievable, in true 1920s thriller fashion. Good stuff, although not quite as good as the earlier THE SECRET ADVERSARY. <br/><br/>DIALS lacks any true fear for the protagonists - everything is so light-hearted you just never believe any of them are truly in danger; the murder at the beginning is accomplished before we come to know the victim at all and thus doesn't feel that important; a second murder is only slightly less so, and very obviously needed to move the plot along and so somewhat acceptable to the reader's sensibilities. The main folks seem invulnerable despite many narrow escapes.<br/><br/>But that's what a 20s thriller is supposed to be, and if, like I do, you enjoy That Sort Of Thing very much, then this is a book for you. <br/><br/>(what follows isn't actually a spoiler, it's the story of how I came to first read Christie: <br/><spoiler> Indirectly, this story was the one that opened up my appreciation for Agatha Christie, when a filmed version of it was shown in the USA in the very early 1980s or possibly late 1970s. I fell in love with the setting and the characters and, not least, with the humor and wickedly sly sensibilities of the show. (Superb acting, btw, as well, especially by Cheryl Campbell and James Warwick). I was, however, afraid that all the things I loved about it were due to the filmed version and not the story. <br/><br/>You see, Christie was my Mum's favorite writer and so, being a contradictory child (grin) I disliked her work intensely for most of my teens and young adulthood. I, like many, thought her stories were old-fashioned and dry, dull things. Well, yes, they are old-fashioned, but most of her work has a sharp sensibility to it that lies just below the surface - all things in the lovely gardens of her stories are not necessarily pretty and sunny! She can be rather subtle emotionally sometimes, and I like that very much. After viewing the film I got a copy of the novel and read it, and... well, suffice it to say that I now own a complete HC set of her books... and am currently engaged in reading all her works in published sequence! (again! smile) </spoiler> )<br/><br/>

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