This standalone murder mystery by Agatha Christie was quite an unusual one. It certainly has “Christie elements” with family drama thrown in, but I found the uncanny ambiance surrounding the crime scene (the Crooked House) is far more disquieting and sinister than in most of her novels.
The story is told to us from the point of view of Charles Heyward, the intended of Sophia Leonides, who gets involved himself in the investigation of the murder of Sophia’s grandfather, the millionaire Aristide Leonides. Since this is a closed-door crime, suspicion is naturally directed at the family. And Charles and Sophia must find the criminal and clear the dreadful suspicion hanging over the family before they could be united.
This is not a standard whodunit of Christie where you see a methodical police procedure. Instead, the investigation runs on the line of getting to know the characters – their personalities, thoughts, and habits – and trying to fish out from them who the criminal is. This approach is interesting since it gives a good insight into the characters and helps us to form our own conclusions as to who the criminal is. However, Christie keeps her rope tight, making the story one of her most twisted ones, so it wasn’t easy to come into any definite opinion. The final revelation wasn’t surprising as was shocking. I was aware of the uncomfortable truth by that time, still, it wasn’t easy to take that in. In truth, the ending makes the novel one unique Christie work. But personally, I found it disturbing and frightful.
Overall, it is a clever work by Agatha Christie and proof that she can write her standalone, too, equally well as her famous series.