Crooked House is one of my favourite stand alone novels by Agatha Christie. By “stand alone” I mean those that are not part of a series featuring one detective like Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple.
Apparently Agatha shares my views. In her preface to this book she says, “This book is one of my own special favourites. I saved it up for years, thinking about it, working it out, saying to myself, “One day, when I’ve plenty of time and want to enjoy myself — I’ll begin it.”
In this story Agatha repeats some of her favourite motifs. The very name of the book, Crooked House is derived from a nursery rhyme, one of her favourite things to do ,
” There was a crooked man, And he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence, Beside a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat Who caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.”
Another familiar thread that runs throughout the story is the romance between the main protagonists. a third patent Agatha formula is a closed community — a group of people living together in a rambling house. This makes it part of the country house murder genre.
Two murders occur in this story. Both are from poisoning. We see signs of Agatha’s extensive knowledge of poisons which she gained working in a hospital pharmacy during the second world. war
All of Agatha Christie’s favourite ingredients combine to make this book a very interesting read. There are complex characters and amusing dialogue. Red herrings abound to confuse you. The final solution leaves you completely baffled. Yet, true to form, when Agatha explains the denouement, everything falls into place.
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