17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Crooked House (Agatha Christie Collection) (Paperback)
Apparently "Crooked House" was one of the few books that Agatha Christie herself was truly satisfied with upon its completion. Certainly it's an entertaining romp around the totally dysfunctional family of Aristide Leonides and there's many an amusing character to enjoy.
Charles Hayward is a young man making his way with a promising career with the foreign office. In a posting to Egypt he meets the beautiful Sophia Leonides and the two fall in love. Charles plans to marry Sophia but the couple decide to give themselves time to see if their feelings for each other are strong enough. After a gap Charles meets Sophia back in London but tragedy has struck the Leonides family as Sophia's grandfather and the family's patriarch Aristide has been found murdered in his house. Sophia feels that until the cloud of suspicion is lifted from the family she cannot marry Charles.
Charles's father is none other than the Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard and along with Chief Inspector Taverner he is sent to the family home in Swinly Dean to see if there are any clues to come to light whilst being "an insider". The family home is a curious building of three separate dwellings comprised into one building, giving it the nick name of "Crooked House". In one part lives Sophia's parents, her remote father Philip, her excitable and effected mother Magda and her sulky brother Eustace and sneaky sister Josephine. Upstairs lives Philip's brother the hearty but incompetent Roger and his wife the cold and calm Clemency.
As far as Sophia's immediate family are concerned the person most likely to have committed the crime is Aristide's second wife Brenda who was 50 years younger than her ex-husband. She is supposedly having an affair with the children's tutor the limp and insipid Lawrence, but to Charles Brenda strikes a very pathetic figure and he suspects the murderer is someone else.
The maze of clues and red herrings is as strong as ever and this book benefits with Charles "the detective" working alongside the police but also having unlimited access to the other family members via his relationship with Sophia. That said Sophia herself is a most unsympathetic and unlikeable character and I guess I won't be the first reader to suspect her of the crimes herself.