Crooked House [Film Tie-in Edition] Paperback – 19 January 2018
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- Publisher : HarperCollins GB; Film tie-in edition (19 January 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0008242879
- ISBN-13 : 978-0008242879
- Dimensions : 19.8 x 1.7 x 12.9 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 166,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
‘One of Agatha’s best. Nicely characterised; delicious red herrings; infinite suspense – and a shocking surprise finish.’ Observer
‘Writing Crooked House was pure pleasure and I feel justified in my belief that it is one of my best.’ Agatha Christie
‘Her sleight of hand is impeccable.’ New Statesman
‘Knock-out!’ Saturday Review of Literature
‘We all go where [Agatha Christie] led; you can track us in her snow.’ (Reginald Hill, author of the Dalziel and Pascoe mysteries
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Towards the end of the Second World War Hayward had been based in Cairo where he had met, and fallen in love with, Sophia Leonides. Once the war is over they return to Britain and plan to be married. In the meantime Sophia returns to her family home in one of London's suburbs. As is so often the case throughout Christie's novels, three generations of the Leonides family live together in the house owned by wealthy patriarch Aristide Leonides. Shortly after her return home, however, Astride is dead, and it soon transpires that he has been murdered. As a consequence of the prominence of the victim, Scotland Yard becomes involved in the investigation and, predictably, Hayward is asked to help out.
When I was about thirteen or fourteen I read dozens of Agatha Christie's novels, one after another, in that slightly obsessive manner that adolescent boys so often have. I enjoyed them but devoured them simply at face value. Re-reading this one nearly forty years later I now recognise that there was a lot of social comment in her depictions of domestic life. There is a wry, understated satire to her works. Her books are, however, redolent of their time. For instance, Christie is perfectly happy to describe Josephine, the younger sister of Sophia, as 'a fantastically ugly child'. I doubt whether any modern novelist would care to be so brutal.
Christie's prose is never glossy but she has an almost journalistic knack of telling the story with the minimum of fuss. Her characterisations may now seem slightly clichéd, but she always maintains a simple verisimilitude. It is, however, with her plotting that she holds the reader's attention. This book is certainly no exception. The plot is tightly constructed, and the denouement comes as rather a shock, though the clues were all there.
I was very glad to have revisited this novel after so long, and I may well try my hand at several more from her prolific output.
This novel has a great puzzle plot.
The downside is the writing, and that is especially true for this book. The writing is truly awful. Not a single person in the book acts like a human being. Not a single description feels like a description of how things are. When Christie strives to use imagery, it is empty verbiage. It adds nothing but a feeling of mild embarassment. And while the puzzle is clever beyond belief, it is also absurd. There is nothing natural in the solution except that it is the one that makes sense of the clues.
Christie's books often make great films. I think this is simply because almost all the problems of Christie are resolved by having real people in front of you. We do not read Christie's description, but we see somebody and have no problem believing them. We do not need to read her descriptions of things, since the things are simply there, concrete and believable. Perhaps she writes words that no one would actually say, but we hear someone actually saying them (although, in reality, the screenwriters help a lot here) and kind-of believe it. And as for the absurd plot ... well that is not such a problem if everything around it makes sense.
Unfortunately, however, Crooked House has not made a great film either.