Having read so many Agatha Christie mysteries, I always appreciate reading one that does not feature her trademark sleuths, especially as Hercule Poirot can be a trifle overbearing at times. "Crooked House" is a delightful, closed door mystery, that will have readers guessing until the very end. It is a tale filled with love and hate, murder and jealousy, all of the elements that make up a good murder mystery.
Charles has just fallen in love with Sophia, the sensible daughter of wealthy but clueless parents. She and her entire immediate family (and some extended) live with her grandfather and his new wife in their strange country house. Their grandfather, Aristide Leonides is a wealthy businessman who does as he pleases and gives generously to all of his children and their offspring. So when he is found murdered, there is very little motive although everyone had the opportunity and knowledge to kill the diabetic when they administered his insulin shots. And Charles finds himself drawn into this mystery, not only because his father works for Scotland Yard, but because Sophia will not marry him unless the murderer is found. Charles is faced with a strange family, at once cold and unwelcoming, but with some members who instantly confide in and beguile Charles. Could Aristide's much younger wife want him dead so she could run off with the grandchildren's tutor? This is what everyone wants to believe. Is one, or both, of his sons angry at some perceived slight? Did one of his daughters-in-law view their living arrangements as more of a prison than a home? Charles knows he must act face before someone else is murdered for knowing too much about the case, and to save his future with Sophia.
"Crooked House" is a fast-paced read that will have readers guessing and confused to the very end. Christie paints a logical case for nearly every suspect and follows several red herrings to their convoluted ends. The ending is unique and sinister and not quite what one would expect, although there have been similar murderers in other Christie works, and indeed in real life.