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4.4 out of 5 stars54
4.4 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 6 April 2006
I don't personally tend to be very fond of the early Christie novels overall. They usually seem a bit lightweight, a bit too sparse and economical, and too full of Bright Young Things making glib jokes and arch comments all the time. There is a bit of that in 'The Sittaford Mystery', (published in 1931), but on the whole this is a very readable mystery novel. Set in a remote village on Dartmoor, a group of people are holding a seance in a snow-bound house, when a message comes through, seemingly from The Other Side, that one of their neighours, Captain Trevelyan, has been murdered. It turns out to be true, and that the murder happened at exactly the time it was revealed in the seance. When an amiable, but not terribly clever young man, James Pearson, is arrested for the murder, his resourceful fiancee sets out to catch the real culprit. I didn't guess the murderer at all in this one, and it was a genuine surprise. What I also liked was that there was no long-winded and highly complex reason as to why the murderer did it. The explanation when it comes is all too human, and very much par for the course in village life! We are led up plenty of garden paths and blind alleys in this one, but the conclusion is very satisfying.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 August 2003
True mystery fans may read and reread tales by the doyenne of all mystery writers, Agatha Christie. With the advent of audio books we can now listen and relisten to our favorites. Surely that will be case with "The Sittaford Mystery" superbly read by acclaimed British actor Nathaniel Parker.
In this, the first novel in which Ms. Christie makes use of the supernatural in her plotting, a seance is being held. The six participants enjoy this pastime, they view it as a lark - that is until a spirit spells out m-u-r-d-e-r. The deceased is supposedly Captain Trevelyan. Not only supposedly, but truly as in only a few hours the Captain is found dead.
It was a brutal murder; death was caused by a vicious blow to the head. Jim, Emily Trefusis's fiancé is the prime suspect. It is up to her to clear his name. For help she turns to a retired Inspector, and a very nosy newsman.
Is this trio able to unearth the truth?
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Originally broadcast back in 1990 this is a superior Agatha Christie story handled expertly by dramatist Michael Bakewell and regular Agatha Christie radio drama director Enyd Williams.
As someone who has enjoyed BBC radio drama for over 5 decades this is certainly in my top few plays to date. Yes, I did have an idea about who dunnit early on but I still found it a surprise as to why they dunnit!
The play is full of well known voices and Geoffrey Whitehead was excellent as Inspector Narracott. Listen out for that well known actor John Moffatt but not as Poirot this time. Archers fans will also recognise Jack May who was for many years Nelson Gabriel. This was a fast moving 2 hours plus and I will listen to the play again soon. Good value.
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on 6 November 2011
The village of Sittaford is snowed in. The cast of characters are cut off in this hamlet in the middle of Dartmoor. Mrs Willet and her daughter Violet give an afternoon cocktail party where they decide to
divert themselves by "table turning". The table has a message for one of their guests that his friend Major Burnaby has been murdered. What are the Willets doing leaving South Africa to spend a winter in the snows of Dartmoor? There's even an escaped prisoner from a local jail on the loose. Mrs Curtis a local landlady is very concerned.
This is Dame Agatha at her best isolate the principles and move the characters around until - viola a solution and a darn clever one at that. A must for Christie fans. Make a cocoa, turn up the electric blanket and join in the fun. Don Wardell KWXY Radio Palm Springs, California.
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on 29 June 2015
The Sittaford Mystery is a classic Agatha Christie puzzle. Isolated by a snow storm a small group of people hold a séance in which the death of Captain Trevelyan is announced. At approximately the same time, the Captain meets his demise. So barring the spirits being real, how could someone at the table know this? As Inspector Narracott investigates it becomes clear the residents of Sittaford are not all quite who they seem, but none seem to have a motive to murder the Captain. The pleasure in the story is the rum mix of characters - especially her amateur sleuth Emily Trefusis, most of whom Christie manages to move into the suspect’s frame, and the plotting wherein all the clues are present, but the reveal is still a surprise. The story is told in a light breezy manner and is entertaining fare.
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on 27 December 2012
I've read this book before and both times enjoyed it. It is set in the times of a hard winter with a bit of the ouija board thrown in.

Based in a very remote part of Devon and near a prison to boot this story sets up many possibilities for a good adventure/mystery and doesn't fail. Plenty of intriguing characters to suspect and the murderer is certainly not the person I initially expected it to be despite having read it before.

Very good read and easy to get stuck into. Would recommend.
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on 11 September 2000
This Radio 4 dramatisation is much, much better than the original novel, but then the original novel is an awful mess that reads like it is two disorganised novelettes badly sewn together. This play is far more coherent than the novel, the scriptwriter has managed to whip the the plot and characters into shape; but what a strange choice it is for a dramatisation... If they wanted to dramatise an eerie Agatha Christie with a strong whiff of the supernatural, there are so many other, better, books they could have taken. What about doing The Mysterious Mr Quinn? There aren't enough Harlequin/Detectives in English literature, and we should make the most of the ones we have.
Be that as it may, this is an enjoyable play. The Sittaford Mystery centres around the death of an irrascable old landlord whose death is foretold by an ouija board at a party held by his own tenants. Entire communities are snowed in; there are escaped convicts scampering about Dartmoor; desperately needy people inherit large sums of money; mysterious foreigners abound; everybody is under suspicion; and bright young thing Emily Trefusis is looking for a husband. So all the elements for a romp through Agatha-Christie-land are present and a rollicking good time is had by all.
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on 25 January 2013
Wonderful piece of radio theatre evoking icy winter in the bleak landscape and the solving of a Christie novel. Excellent cast and production it is nectar to lie back, close eyes and soak up the story and atmosphere.
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on 22 November 2009
The Sittaford Mystery combines the elements of the cosy life of a village cut off by snow , a murder mystery , love interest and a nod to Conan Doyle. One of Christie's early works I believe, certainly no Poirot or Miss Marple in evidence here. Clear convincing acting, with some famous voices. The story appears edited oddly in parts, so that some of the plot links seem to be missing , but this does not detract from the climax.
The plot and production hold the listener's attention. Violent death there may be, but listening to this product brings comfort and enjoyment !
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on 5 August 2014
Whilst I love everything Agatha has written, certain books I find less memorable than others, and the Sittaford Mistery is one of them. Although cleverly crafted and reasonably satisfying in its ending, I didn't quite warm to the choice of sleuth, the almost too 'wonderful' Emily, whom all men adore and all women are keen to help, in spite of her poking her nose in everyone's affairs. There is a sort of naivety about this book which reveals it as one of her early efforts and I am now keen to move on to one of her more substantial novels.
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