I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was participating in the #ReadChristie2021 challenge, and as well as telling you what the official Agatha Christie team have chosen for their January read (The Hollow), I said that I had opted to read something different.
January’s challenge is to read a Christie book set in a grand house. Instead of The Hollow, I chose Crooked House, a book that I first read when I was about sixteen, and which I have recently watched on TV – in fact, this probably prompted my choice because I wanted to compare the original with the adaptation.
The Leonides family live together in a huge house on the edge of London. They had no idea that one of them could be capable of murder until Aristide Leonides, head of the household, was found poisoned.
Leonides had a regular injection of insulin which the murderer had substituted for eserine. Was the murderer a bit stupid? Whoever it was had not even removed the incriminating evidence. Or was there something much more sinister, much more evil at work here?
Charles Hayward is the son of the Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard. He also is about to marry one of the household, Sophia Leonides. Solving this murder therefore becomes his priority and he sets about tracking down the culprit. But will the murderer strike again and, if so, who could possibly be next on the list – and why?
Of the standalone novels, it, for me, stands out as one of the best. It certainly didn’t fail me on that score when re-reading it this month. It has all the hallmarks of classic Golden Age mystery – the amateur sleuth, a tight cast of characters in a closed setting, in this case the English Country House, and one hell of a puzzle to solve. And in this case, it has the added impetus of making the reader seriously question their detecting beliefs, and what they actually want to believe. It is truly incredible (and I mean that in as many ways as you wish to take it).
I think of it often as I’m scanning my Christie bookshelves as one of the stories that really packed a punch for me because it left me truly shocked. No spoilers here, but if you’ve never read Crooked House, I thoroughly recommend it.
If you would like to read Crooked House (whether for the challenge or just for fun):
See it on Amazon UK here.
See it on Amazon US here.
(As always, my disclaimer: some of the links I use are my affiliate links. This means I may earn a small payment if you choose to buy through them. I only ever add affiliate links to books and products I have used and love, so you can always be sure that they are wholehearted recommendations from me.)
I would love to know if you decided to take up the Read Christie 2021 challenge, and if you did, what you decided to read for January and what you thought about your choice. Have you read Crooked House previously and, if so, what did you think of it (try to avoid spoilers in your comments, or mark them clearly beforehand, please, so others who don’t know the story can choose to skip over them).