Title: The Sittaford Mystery
Author: Agatha Christie
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Date: 2017 (1931)
Genre: Crime & Mystery
Summary: M-U-R-D-E-R. It began as an innocent parlour game intended to while away the hours on a bitter winter night. But the message that appeared before the amateur occultists at the snowbound Sittaford House was spelt out as loud and clear as a scream. Of course, the notion that they had foretold doom was pure bunk. Wasn’t it? And the discovery of a corpse was pure coincidence. Wasn’t it? If they’re to discover the answer to this baffling murder, perhaps they should play again. But a journey into the spirit world could prove terribly dangerous-especially when the killer is lurking in this one.
The Sittaford Mystery begins with a séance where, at 5.25 pm, a spirit announces that Captain Trevelyan has just been murdered.
Any book that begins with several people huddled around a table conducting a séance in a house in the middle of nowhere (in this case, Dartmoor) sounds like a good book to me! I was really excited about reading this book, not only because I was intrigued by the summary but because this was a standalone Christie novel. I love Poirot – and what little of Marple I’ve read – but I was just really looking forward to a standalone book.
I know that I say this (almost) every time I review an Agatha Christie novel but I think that this is my favourite out of the ones I’ve read so far. It was a very action-packed, fast-paced novel and I really liked the narrative style of The Sittaford Mystery as it wasn’t just focused on one or two characters.
What I loved most about this novel was the variety of characters. There are actually seven inspectors in this book: four policemen, a doctor, a journalist, and Emily Trefusis. It’s so different from the other books I’ve read by Christie where there were one or two detectives on the case and I thoroughly enjoyed the amateur sleuthing going on in this novel. It reminded me of The Secret of Chimneys and The Seven Dials Mystery, both of which I really enjoyed. Emily is a really interesting character and I’m glad that so much of the focus is on her and her relationships. I always seem to like Christie’s female characters because they’re human and flawed but they’re often very clever and know how to use society’s expectations about them in the favour.
I also really enjoyed the plot! I found the mystery to be very immersive and engaging and I think that this is partially due to how isolated the action of the story is. It takes place over a rather short amount of time and there are limited locations so I found it very easy to focus on what was going on and get lost in the story. It was a very plausible plot too. I’m not a big fan of trying too hard to work out the solution because I like to be swept away by the story so I didn’t see the solution coming. After reading the entire book, I could recognise the red herrings that Christie carefully places throughout the plot and I must admit that she successful diverted my attention away from the real killer at several points in the book. I guess that’s why she’s called the Queen of Crime. I’m not going to spoil anything about the plot because where’s the fun in that?
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved the plot, I loved Emily, and I loved Christie’s writing. I don’t really have much else to say.
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