Friday, February 15, 2013

Crooked House: Agatha Christie


Crooked House was published in 1949. The story is set following World War II. A couple that met in Egypt during the war has reunited in London. However, their plans to marry are interrupted by the death of her grandfather. This is the first non-series book by Christie that I have read since I began my quest to read all of her mystery novels.

From the synopsis of the book at the official Agatha Christie website:
Three generations of the Leonides family live together in a large, if somewhat crooked looking, house. Then the wealthy patriarch, Aristide, is murdered.  Suspicion falls on the whole household, including Aristide’s two sons, his widow – fifty years his junior – and even his three grandchildren.
The story focuses on a family that is very close. Each is protective of the others, even though they may see each other's faults. Each member is strange, in their own way, and thus the introduction to each member of the menagerie is entertaining. Some mystery readers fault Agatha Christie because of her characters (too stereotypical, too cardboard?), but I have not seen that in the books I have read. This one seems to be the perfect blending of puzzle, plot, and characters.

The revelation of the culprit is surprising and shocking, but when you return to the story you can see all the clues leading in that direction.

I liked everything about this book. I have no complaints. But here is a list of the attributes that I particularly appreciated:
  • The story is told in first person, by Charles Hayward, who wants to marry Sophia Leonides. I generally enjoy books told in the first person, because you get closer to the character. And it justifies not knowing some facts or being in the dark about some subjects, as long as that is true for the narrator.
  • It is a love story, but the love story does not dominate. As the reader, I wanted the love story to end well, but as with all the mysteries by Christie that I have read, I was never sure what was coming.
  • The story features a strong woman as a central character, and I always appreciate that. Especially in a vintage mystery.

I  read this book for the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge, hosted by  Mysteries In Paradise. If you are interested in joining in, here are instructions on how to do that. Links to other reviews for this month will be found here.

Also submitted for the Vintage Mystery Challenge (Jolly Old England).



19 comments:

  1. I have read this book but don't remember much about the plot now. Your review makes me feel like re-reading it.

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    1. This one really surprised me. It came highly recommended by Sarah at crimepieces.

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  2. I really enjoyed this one - it sticks out as being one of my favourite Christies. It's refreshing to depart from Poirot and Marple for a while!

    Marie
    http://www.girlvsbookshelf.blogspot.com

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    1. This year I have read one Poirot, one Marple, one Tommy and Tuppence and one non-series. I intend to keep rotating them.

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  3. I have this one and am looking forward to reading it, Tracy! Nice review.

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    1. Thanks, Peggy. I know you will enjoy it.

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  4. Tracy - I couldn't agree more about the story's attributes. That first-person point of view is especially effective I think at helping us get to know the Leonides family and the impression the family members make. Oh, and this one was deliciously creepy I thought... Thanks for the excellent review.

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    1. I almost wish this could have been part of series. The family is so interesting. Thank you, Margot.

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  5. Glad you enjoyed it Tracy. This is one of my all time favourites and completely lacking in sentimentality. The whole family are slightly strange and the love story is also an honest look at attraction amongst murder and mayhem.

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    1. I am glad that you recommended this one to me. I know I am not going to like every Agatha Christie I read, but the four I have read in the last year have been really good ones. And this one shows why she has such a good reputation.

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  6. I haven't read CROOKED HOUSE yet but I like the idea of reading a first-person love story. It's probably secondary to her mysteries, but love stories are interwoven into many of her plots both directly and indirectly.

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    1. I recently saw a post listing 10 couples in Christie novels. I did not read it in detail because there were spoilers, but I was surprised to learn about them. I should not have been so surprised, since all of the books I have read so far (recently) have contained some element of romance.

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  7. Crooked House is my favourite Christie book! Great to find a review here!

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    1. It is a great book, isn't it? I haven't hit one that I did not like so far.

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  8. The ending to this book I think surpasses the twist in Murder of Roger Ackroyd. She liked to break the rules, didn't she? I've always wanted to see a movie version of it. Supposedly one is in the works, but the last news I read of it (with Julie Andrews as the grandmother!) was two years ago and there's nothing on imdb.com which tends to be current with any movie in actual prodcution. Maybe it all fell through.

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    1. I had thought the same... a movie should be made of this story. Since so many of her books have been done multiple times, it is strange that this one has not.

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  9. Some of my favorite Christie books are her standalone ones, so I'm looking forward to this one.

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    1. It is a good one. I think you will like it.

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  10. This week is my " read something completely different" week. I never ready mysteries and will start Crooked House tonight. After I'm finished....I read your review! Thanks for being such an ardent promoter of this book genre!

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