Rating: 4 Stars
There was a crooked man and he went a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence beside a crooked stile.
He had a crooked cat which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.
Agatha Christie herself admitted to being partial to Crooked House and called it one of her favourite books. When you read this book, it is evident that the writer had as much fun writing it as the reader has reading it. I have always enjoyed Agatha Christie’s style of old-fashioned romance with more emphasis on the actual story and less on holding hands and calling each other “darling”! This one is right up there with The Man in The Brown Suit in my list of favourite Christies.
Charles Hayward is in love with Sophia Leonides and intends to marry her as soon as circumstances permit. However, when he returns to England, he discovers that Sophia’s much beloved grandfather has passed away. The police suspect foul play, and every clue points to the dead man’s second wife who is fifty years younger than him. When Sophia decides that she cannot get married until the case is solved and the murderer punished, it falls to Charles to find out the truth.
The Leonides household is full of people who hold grudges against each other, as well as the victim, Aristide Leonides. The nature of the crime is such that anyone could have had the opportunity to do it without the others being any wiser. It is in everyone’s interest to let the young second wife take the blame, yet none of them actually believe it to be the truth.
With everyone trying to hide something, and newer, more incriminating facts coming to light every day, Charles finds himself willing to go along with the solution that makes the most sense. The way this book was going, I started to feel really bad for poor Charles. The unexpected turns that come out of nowhere in true Agatha Christie fashion, seem quite misleading, yet lead to a finale few would predict correctly.
The end is not really my favourite, but it makes a strange kind of sense and confirms my belief that Agatha Christie was a romantic at heart.