“I must have looked slightly startled, for she seemed amused, and explained by expanding to quotation. “‘And they all lived together in a little crooked house.’ That’s us.” (Page 4)
Title: Crooked House
Written by: Agatha Christie
Publisher: Dodd, Mead and Company
Publication Date: March 1949
Paperback: 236 pages
Aristide Leonides was poisoned by a simple method of replacing the liquid in his insulin bottle with eye drops. All suspicion seems to rest on Aristide’s young wife but each person in the household has equal motive – or perhaps lack of it. Only when the second murder happens do things start to unravel but by then it might be too late.
Having blazed my way through more than forty five Agatha Christie books in the past year I feel justified to pronounce this judgment:
Agatha Christie’s standalone novels are creepy.
True, Why Didn’t They Ask Evens, (review: HERE) is not as creepy as Ten Little Indians (also titled) And Then There Were None, but they both gave me shivers, nightmares, and a fear of the dark.
After losing sleep from reading it, I thought the creepiest Agatha Christy book I could ever read was And Then There Were None – then I read Cooked House.
“‘You see, we’re a very queer family … There’s a lot of ruthlessness in us – and – different kinds of ruthlessness. That’s what’s so disturbing. The different kinds.’” (page 28)
Every person in the Leonides/de Haviland household is a potential murderer. The actress, the historian, the self-righteous wife, the failed businessman, the heiress, the spinster, the convalescent, the grieving widow, and the widow’s lover.
Of course, there are other suspects – but only someone in the family gains from Aristide Leonides’ death.
Every person in the household had the motive, means, and madness to poison Aristide.
But which one?
I not sure what to say about this book.
It’s creepy, disturbing, and will likely cause me sociological problems.
This is no Hercule Poirot, or Miss Marple novel where you can occasionally take a moment to laugh.
This is serious, deadly, and oh so crooked.
I suspected from the beginning who the real murderer of Aristide Leonides was but that was because of (reasons I can’t explain or else I risk spoiling the plot).
I think if I hadn’t had (reasons I can’t explain or else I risk spoiling the plot) the twist ending would have been well, a twist ending.
Speaking of the ending, I have a bone to pick with Agatha Christie.
Of all forty-five+ books I’ve gone through, a disturbing majority of them ended with either the murderer escaping from justice, or being killed/committing suicide.
I don’t like it.
I want the murderer to stand trial for what he/she has done, face the judge, get the punishment he/she deserves.
But as Sherlock Holmes said, “(Y)ou will soon have to answer for your deed at a higher court than the Assizes.” (The Boscombe Valley Mystery)
I recommend this book to mature teenagers and adult fans of Agatha Christie.
For More Information about the Book and Author Click: HERE
Age Range: 14 and up
Cautions – *Contains Slight Spoilers*
Violence: A man and a woman are poisoned. Two people die in a car crash. A marble block falls on a girl. Eustace runs his finger across his throat when looking at Charles. Man says he’ll kill Brenda. A man stabbed two people. Excessive talk on the Biblical story of Jezebel and “why the dogs didn’t eat the palms of her hands.”
Sensuality: Woman lies about being pregnant to get a rich man to marry her. (Possibly – the truth is never discovered.) Two people are having an affair. A person having “sex appeal” is mentioned. Charles tells Sophia he loves her, he holds her, and proposes to her.
Profanity: Devil, (people are called) stupid, gosh, h–l, d–n, and God’s name is taken in vain.
Other(drugs/alcohol): Everyone smokes. People drink whisky. People lie. A man is accused of embezzlement. Two characters eavesdrop. Everyone in the Leonides family hates Brenda. After a certain event, the family becomes (sort-of) estranged from Sophia. War, people being stabbed and communists are mentioned.
Personal Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Cleanness Rating: 2 ½ out of 5 stars
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