‘The Sittaford Mystery’ or ‘The Murder at Hazelmoor’ is another masterpiece from the mystery queen. While readers do not rate this book higher, I found this book very appealing. Set in a remote English village under heavy snow, the storyline reveals an interesting cast of characters. These characters have been sketched so well that you do not feel the absence of Christie’s well-renowned sleuths (Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple) in this book. Yes, you heard me right. There is neither Poirot nor Miss Marple in this book. However, as I just mentioned, most of the characters of this book have been crafted so brilliantly that you do not even think about these famous detectives.
The inclusion of supernatural elements in the main storyline adds a certain charm to the mysterious atmosphere of the plot. However, inclusion such as this clearly seems to have inspired from ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In fact, it will not be wrong to say that there are certain elements in the book under review, which resembles closely with ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’. For example, both stories are set in Devon with a gothic atmosphere. Likewise, we find an escaped prisoner from Dartmoor Prison in both the mysteries. Both the mysteries have a character depicted as a naturalist. However, in spite of these similarities, this book is an excellent read and can be cherished at any time. This book keeps your attention from the first chapter itself. Like all Christie novels, a number of characters who might have actually committed the crime appear one by one. The storyline has a perfect jigsaw mystery, which leaves you hanging until the end when all is explained.
Let’s have a look on the storyline. Some guests at a country house entertain themselves by playing a game of table-turning. A freak snowstorm is going on outside. What started as an innocent game soon turns evil when the spirits inform them that the owner of the house is murdered. Few hours later, the dead body of the owner is discovered in a neighboring village. Inexplicably, the time of the death of the owner is the exact time when guests were informed about it by the spirits. How was it possible? Was any supernatural power involved in this murder or was it a regular human crime? Well! I am not going to spoil the story. You will have to read the book to know the answers of these questions.
While I will not place this book in the category of Christie’s spellbinding books such as ‘And Then There Were None’, ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ and ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’, this book has its own charm. Yes, the mystery is not as complex as it should be. And, some readers may even find the motive for murder as ridiculous. For me, this book is another example of Christie’s clever and imaginative mind. Ending of the book is not shocking but certainly satisfying. While the climax of the book will not leave you shocked by pulling the rug under your feet, it will not disappoint you.