It’s been a cold couple of days and if you’re done playing in the snow (if you still have any) then this is the book for you. I’m getting close to the end of my Agatha Christie trail, having said goodbye to Miss Marple and Poirot. The Crooked House doesn’t feature either detective and the story is told by the son of the Commissioner investigating the case. He just so happens to be wanting to become engaged to the granddaughter of the victim.
I’ve been reading this for a while – in fact I started it before Christmas. I was only half way through when it was on TV and so I couldn’t watch it because I didn’t want to spoil the ending for myself. So over the last couple of months in various coffee shops and many trains I’ve been trying to get to the end of it so I can find out what happened. It was most intriguing and what was even more pleasing was that I worked out who the murderer was.
The victim is an old man who lives in a bizarre house – both in architecture and also in who lives there. He has a young wife who falls immediately under suspicion. Joining her under that suspicion is the tutor of the two children, and it’s fairly obvious that they more than like each other. But then there is the rest of the family – his two sons from a previous marriage and their children. And also a sister in law. And of course in true murder mystery style they all have motives.
One of my favourite characters was the child, Josephine, who tells our main character, Charles, that she is investigating the murder because the police are stupid. She predicts that a second murder is coming and is correct. But really the best character was Edith de Haviland – she is a no nonsense kind of person who I think sees more clearly than the rest what is going on.
In my mind what makes this novel different to the Marple and Poirot mysteries is that you become invested in the relationship between Charles and Sophia. If they can’t solve the case then Sophia won’t marry Charles. But then there’s also the thought that what if Sophia is the guilty one. It’s an element that isn’t in the other novels and it makes for more interesting reading.
As endings go I was surprised at how satisfying it was. I’m not a huge fan of characters taking the law into their own hands but somehow it worked in this. It’s the kind of ending that makes you shudder with relief.
I’ve only got one more Agatha Christie to read this time round – and I’m hoping to read it a bit of a quicker speed than this one. I have a couple of long train journeys coming up and there’s really only one way to entertain myself – read a good book.