I stayed up late last night reading The Secret of Chimneys. That book is so entertaining to me, and it's one that I remember exactly how it comes out, yet enjoy all along the way, anticipating each interesting reveal. There are a couple of notes about it I've taken in order to discuss later, in conjunction with another book. In the meantime, next up is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.
This book is noteworthy for several reasons. It's the last book Christie wrote before her Troubles with Archie, her first husband. After that, she wrote several books through the rest of the 20s that just don't live up to the strength of this one at all, though I do find them interesting, myself. Then in 1930, after she met her second husband, Max Mallowan, she really came alive again, and wrote lots of great stuff over the next couple of decades, and more beyond that until her death.
The story is told in first person, and includes Hercules Poirot, but Hastings is not the narrator. And the conclusion of it so startled contemporary readers, a number of them protested, as though they'd been taken for a ride. Well, they had been taken for a ride, and most reviewers consider it to have been a brilliant one.
The problem with that is you can never forget how it plays out, so reading it again, even after a number of years, isn't like rereading most of the other books, which, with only a few exceptions, somehow manage to wind you up over and over again. Once you've read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, reading it over again is done with a leaning anticipation for the now-foregone conclusion. (You remember how I just said that delights me with Chimneys, don't you? I'm not contrary, though. The two books are done in a very different style.) Many people do not read books over and over again, so this wouldn't be a bother to them at all! But I will confess that usually when I'm reading through Christie, I leave this one out. I'm looking forward to enjoying it this evening, though, and do highly recommend it. It's a very good story, even though it is not one of my personal favorites. And if you don't know already how it's going to play out, you will probably, with 2010 sensibilities, really enjoy getting to the last pages and Poirot's denouement...