Last year, as part of the Novellas in November 2020 reading event, I read the brilliant crime-fiction, Crooked House by Agatha Christie. This is Christie’s 49th detective story, first published coincidentally in 1949. It is also rated as one of her very best by ‘The Queen of Crime’ herself! So, as you can imagine, I went into this with high expectations and much excitement. 🔎
And I was not to be disappointed! This later, stand-alone mystery – that takes its title from the old jingle ‘all lived together in a little crooked house’ – starts with the poisoning of the wealthy patriarch, Aristide Leonides, when it soon becomes apparent that the killer could only have been one of the residents of his large, rambling home: Three Gables. But that leaves a long list of suspects, with three generations of his family living under the one roof, and while they are not necessarily crooked in the dishonest sense, they have all grown up with a slightly twisted outlook on life.
Into the fray steps diplomat Charles Hayward, fiancé of the victim’s beloved granddaughter Sophia, who finds himself drawn into the investigation, fearing they could never be together while this stain is upon her family. It also just so happens that Charles’ father is a retired policeman, and so encouraged by his ‘old man’, Charles is recruited by the wile Chief-Inspector Taverner to infiltrate into the family to pick up information they may not share so openly with the police. But it won’t be easy and it is not long before Charles is left wondering if he can trust any of them… even Sophia!
Well, what follows, is a masterful mystery, with more suspects than you can wave a stick at! From Leonide’s eldest bumbling son Roger and his cold wife; to the younger, flashier son Philip, his theatrical wife and their three children: Sophia, Eustace and Josephine. Then there is their resented, young stepmother Brenda; the formidable spinster aunt Miss de Haviland and Mr Brown, the children’s tutor and Brenda’s suspected lover. Phew! However Christie never left me confused by all these characters, just scratching my head whodunnit! Towards the end of the book, I had a terrible suspicion, but didn’t seriously believe it till the dramatic unveiling! 😱
And there I must leave you, for fear to go on would risk spoilers! All in all, I thought Crooked House was a brilliantly crafted murder mystery, with plenty of twists, turns, clues and redherrings to keep me well and truly gripped. So much so I found it hard to put it down, only doing so when sleep and work made me! Great read ⭐⭐⭐
Now I’d love to hear from you: Have you read this? What is your favourite Agatha Christie mystery?