Crooked House by Agatha Christie is one of her standalone novels. You will not find her well-established sleuths (Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Tommy and Tuppence, and Superintendent Battle, etc.) in this novel. The book was one of Christie’s favourite books and she thoroughly enjoyed writing it. In the foreword of this book, Agatha Christie writes, “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 really enjoy myself—I’ll begin it! I should say that of one’s output, five books are work to one that is real pleasure. Crooked House was pure pleasure.” The book was first published in the US on 23 May 1949.
The book has a simple but brilliant plot. The book takes the readers to a little-crooked house called ‘Three Gables’, where three generations of the Leonides family are living together. The head of this family is a wealthy entrepreneur Aristide Leonides. He is living in this house with his second wife Brenda. His first wife is dead and this second wife is decades junior to him. Then there are two families of Aristide’s children from the first wife. The first family includes Philips (Aristide’s younger son) and his wife Magda, and their three children: Sophia, Eustace, and Josephine. The second family includes Roger (Aristide’s eldest son) and his wife Clemency. In addition to these, there are a number of other characters that are part of this house. At the age of 85, Aristide dies. This should have been a case of natural death but the police investigation reveals that he was poisoned with his own eye medicine. From then on, the needle of suspicion moves to every member of this household as anybody could have committed the murder.
After reading the above plot, you will think that it is the usual Christie mystery. However, that is not the case. While the book is an unpredictable ride for the readers and they will be blown by the ending, this book is more than a novel featuring just a murder mystery. The book is a psychological study of different characters portrayed in this book. The book delves into human nature. You will enjoy reading this book because of this cast of characters. It appears that Christie truly had a ton of fun sketching out these characters. Additionally, the book is a portrayal of a dysfunctional family. In other words, in this book, finding out the murderer assumes a lower priority to get to know the members of this crooked household. You will be sucked into knowing these characters. The people who criticize Christie’s characters should definitely read this book.
Of course, all the elements of a murder mystery are also in the book and, as mentioned above, readers will love the twist at the end because the ending of this book is superb. I have no other words to describe this ending. It is simply superb. According to some sources, publishers tried to force Christie to change the ending but she didn’t budge. Thank God, she refused. This book wouldn’t have been the same if the ending of this book would have been changed.
This book is a must-read for all Agatha Christie fans.