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"I think...that there's a lot more in this case than meets the eye.",
This review is from: The Sittaford Mystery (The Christie Collection) (Paperback)
Though this statement by Inspector Narracott resembles statements made by Agatha Christie's detectives in most of her other mysteries, there is MUCH more in this case than meets the eye. Perhaps the most complex and most beautifully developed case among all Christie's novels, The Sittaford Mystery, originally published in the US in 1931 as The Mystery of Hazelmoor, has at least half a dozen mysteries going simultaneously. Each of them is investigated separately until the conclusion, when all are resolved, with surprises galore. Clever, complex, and filled with unexpected twists and turns, this mystery is a classic of the genre.
Six people at remote, moor-side Sittaford House decide to pass the time on a snowy evening by calling up the spirit world while joining hands around a small table. A "spirit" tells them that Captain Trevelyan, a man known to them all, is dead--murdered. His best friend, Major Burnaby, alarmed, immediately decides to check on him in person, traveling on foot for six miles until he finds Trevelyan's cottage open and Trevelyan indeed dead.
Trevelyan, a wealthy but "close" man, has family, some of them greatly in need of money, and each member of the extended family is investigated in detail. One young nephew, who had visited his uncle just before his death, is arrested for the murder, and his fiancée, Emily Trefussis, believing him innocent, decides to investigate, with the help of a newspaper reporter, Charles Enderby. The Willett family, which has been leasing Sittaford House from Captain Trevelyan, is mysterious, their origins in question, and their reasons for occupying the house in the depths of winter are suspect. A jailbreak twelve miles away creates tension in town, and characters seemingly unconnected with the murder are discovered to have been lying about their whereabouts. Everyone in the community seems to have questions about everyone else. The six people involved in the table-turning at Sittaford are the only ones who seem to have airtight alibis.
As Inspector Narracott, Emily Trefussis and Charles Enderby all work to solve the case, each for different reasons, Christie's genius at plotting becomes obvious. Red herrings abound, as do true surprises, and when, at the conclusion, all the questions are answered and the murderer is unmasked, the precision with which Christie has developed this mystery is obvious. Arguably the best of the Christie mysteries. n Mary Whipple