Last week I finished reading Crooked House, by Agatha Christie, but it’s been such a busy week and weekend, that I’m just now getting around to posting about it. I’ve read many of Agatha Christie’s mysteries over the years, starting with And Then There Were None when I was in the 5th grade many, many years ago! I’ve read quite a few since then with Miss Marple as the detective, a number with Poirot, and one or two with Tommy and Tuppence. And, happily, there are still a lot of them I can look forward to reading! Crooked House is a stand alone novel, not part of one of her series, but is a very enjoyable mystery to read!
From the Agatha Christie web site, here is a synopsis of the story:
A wealthy Greek businessman is found dead at his London home… The Leonides were one big happy family living in a sprawling, ramshackle mansion. That was until the head of the household, Aristide, was murdered with a fatal barbiturate injection. Suspicion naturally falls on the old man’s young widow, fifty years his junior. But the murderer has reckoned without the tenacity of Charles Hayward, fiance of the late millionaire’s granddaughter…
In this book, I was particularly struck by Christie’s chilling description of the mindset of a murderer:
“What are murderers like? Some of them,” a faint rather melancholy smile showed on his face, “have been thoroughly nice chaps.”
… “Murder, you see, is an amateur crime. I’m speaking of course of the kind of murder you have in mind–not gangster stuff. One feels, very often, as though these nice ordinary chaps, had been overtaken, as it were, by murder, almost accidentally. They’ve been in a tight place, or they’ve wanted something very badly, money or a woman–and they’ve killed to get it…
…”But some people, I suspect, remain morally immature. They continue to be aware that murder is wrong, but they do not feel it. I don’t think, in my experience, that any murderer has really felt remorse…And that, perhaps, is the mark of Cain. Murderers are set apart, they are ‘different’ — murder is wrong– but not for them — for them it is necessary — the victim has ‘asked for it,’ it was ‘the only way.'”
Crooked House was one of Christie’s own favorites of the books she wrote: “Writing Crooked House was pure pleasure and I feel justified in my belief that it is one of my best.”
I chose to read this book as one of my 50-books-in-5-years for The Classics Club.