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Crooked House
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Book of the Month Reads > CLOSED October 2014 - Crooked House

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message 1: by Carolyn F. (new)

Carolyn F. | 4597 comments Mod
Originally published 1949.

In the sprawling, half-timbered mansion in the affluent suburb of Swinly Dean, Aristide Leonides lies dead from barbiturate poisoning. An accident? Not likely. In fact, suspicion has already fallen on his luscious widow, a cunning beauty fifty years his junior, set to inherit a sizeable fortune, and rumored to be carrying on with a strapping young tutor comfortably ensconced in the family estate. But criminologist Charles Hayward is casting his own doubts on the innocence of the entire Leonides brood. He knows them intimately. And he's certain that in a crooked house such as Three Gables, no one's on the level...

Diana Marie (DoodleBugDesigns) | 2 comments I read this book a few months ago..totally shocked/surprised by the ending..quite good

message 3: by Marlene (new)

Marlene Johnson | 4 comments Is this for Oct 2013 or truly Oct 2014....? Am I not seeing the 2013 monthly read?

Denise (dulcinea3) | 262 comments Marlene wrote: "Is this for Oct 2013 or truly Oct 2014....? Am I not seeing the 2013 monthly read?"

The threads were posted way in advance, so you just have to search down through them. However, I just posted on this month's thread (Evil Under the Sun), so that should have brought it to the top!

message 5: by Carolyn F. (new)

Carolyn F. | 4597 comments Mod
I did a discussion for each book as we read them. So this is for 2014. I tried to do them way ahead so that people can get the books beforehand especially if they can find them for a bargain. Marlene, we're reading her books in date of publication and then will start all over again. One of the members said from start to finish, one book a month, it will take 7 years

If you do happen to read a book ahead of time and want to comment on it, go ahead. Sometimes we don't want to wait a whole year :)

message 6: by Carolyn F. (new)

Carolyn F. | 4597 comments Mod
Get ready, this is our October 2014 book of the month :)

Victoria_Grossack Grossack (victoriagrossack) | 74 comments I always thought that this had one of Christie's most daring solutions. Surprising, logical, and absolutely chilling.

Dinou R | 12 comments I read this book when I was still in high school (a lifetime ago) & I remembered who the culprit was. Nevermind, it's still as good as it was back then.

message 9: by Pat (new)

Pat I think it's time for a re-read! This certainly is one of Christie's most memorable endings.

carol. | 32 comments I thought it entertaining, and agree with Victoria that it was a very daring solution to the mystery and crime.

✿ Deni (denidax) This is a great book with an unexpected ending; I think it's one of Chritie's best.

I read it years ago and somehow I forgot who did it, so I guess I wasn't as impressed by it back then as I am now, but I do hope I manage to forget the ending again so I can be surprised by it once more. Or maybe it's actually better to read it knowing who the murderer is, so I can pay attention to other details which I'm sure I missed.

Katherine The first time I read Crooked House, I solved the mystery. I was surprised with myself! I've only solved a few of her mysteries and this is one of them. I finished reading it again today and I liked it better the second time around. It's chilling and horrifying. Good mystery!

message 13: by Carolyn F. (new)

Carolyn F. | 4597 comments Mod
I always like to try and figure them out too Katherine. I'll go on a streak and solve a bunch and then I'll be dumber than a stump for a longer period of time.

message 14: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments The first time I read this one I was a teenager, and I didn't appreciate it. Oh sure, I was dazzled by the ending for its shock value (and, by the way, Christie wasn't the first. Ellery Queen used this solution nearly twenty years earlier, but for a number of reasons it doesn't work as well.) But I didn't appreciate the rest of the book; in fact, I thought it rather dull.

Well, older and wiser, I just re-read it for perhaps the third time, and I enjoyed it much more. I think what I loved the most this time was the character of Magda. She really is one of the funniest creations in Christie's canon. The author tended to paint all her actors as vain, amoral creatures, and Magda isn't really an exception. But I loved how she tried on different characterizations to suit the aspect of the investigation or the person who was interrogating her.

In fact, this time around the quartet of Roger, Clemency, Phillip and Magda stood out to me much more clearly in terms of characterization. The whole business of the will(s) brought out their long-standing conflicts and contrasting personalities.

The victim, Aristide, remained an interesting character to me, although we never meet him. And, of course, Sophia and Josephine are wonderful to behold. But I wish that Aunt Edith and Eustace had been more thoughtfully rendered. Their roles are quite small, and considering Edith's final act, I feel we should have known her better in order for that moment to have greater emotional impact. It felt tacked on.

One more thing, and then I'll shut up for the moment. I happened to read the publisher's description of the novel on the Goodreads page. It describes Brenda as a luscious widow and Lawrence as the strapping hunk of schoolteacher she dallied with. Nothing could be further from the truth here! Brenda and Lawrence are much more interesting than those cliched descriptions by the very fact that they are much more banal! It's like some of the TV adaptations that didn't trust Christie's plots without adding sex to them. It's kind of infuriating!!

carol. | 32 comments Thank you for sharing, Brad. I agree, I also loved Magda and her various personalities. So clever! I think the first time I was more annoyed by her because of a general absent-mother tendency, but my opinions changed as well, and the last time through I was more impressed by general characterization. Each seems so unique that it's rather a treat.

Victoria_Grossack Grossack (victoriagrossack) | 74 comments It is amazing how Aristide, even though we never meet him, remains a force in the book. I can see how Josephine and Sophia both resemble him, with their strong wills and proactive natures.

message 17: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments This post is about something Christie does in a lot of her books, and it's probably HIGHLY spoilerific, so those of you who haven't finished the book should beware:

Throughout her novels, Christie harped on the idea that personality was inherited, like DNA! One could argue that, given the more primitive understanding of genetic codes during her lifetime, Christie was simply confusing "nature vs. nurture." Still, time and again, she would introduce killers who had seemingly inherited their evil ways from their forebears, even if the two have never even met!! (view spoiler)

However, in Crooked House I believe Christie uses this concept well. We are all the product of the different people we come into contact with. The science here is all wrong probably, but on the level of family upbringing it makes sense that a strong man like Aristede would raise dutiful children, and that the children's' repressed bitternesses could manifest themselves in a new generation.

And then there's the issue of class: Christie proposes that a rich family would have a whole different set of characteristics than a poor immigrant family. This is no doubt true in some ways, but it's based on circumstances, not blood, and it's weird to read when Christie posits that the children "inherit" a blend of these characteristics from their ancestors like you would inherit height or hair color. More likely, it's just the effect of a large family rubbing elbows constantly in their "little crooked house."

Rachel (rach5275) I loved this one! Each character was unique. It had me guessing right up until the end.

carol. | 32 comments Agree, Brad, Christie's ideas of inheritance are what date this book the most for me. The little asides and comments keep prodding me as I read.

message 20: by Carolyn F. (new)

Carolyn F. | 4597 comments Mod
I finished it! I listed the audio play which was wonderful. I most liked that they put period music in the intermissions. Although I'm not quite as old as the book, I knew all of the songs except for one.

I must have read this before because when we figured out who did it, I thought, "Oh that's right!" Very gripping and a lot sad.

message 21: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad Friedman | 191 comments Where did you find an audio with music, Carolyn??? I was stuck with the boring read by Hugh Fraser. Was yours the BBC radio play?

message 22: by Carolyn F. (last edited Oct 18, 2014 01:55PM) (new)

Carolyn F. | 4597 comments Mod
Here's the book link. I purchased it quite a while ago. It's through BBC Audiobooks Ltd. I like Hugh Fraser but this one was really entertaining. Oh and yes it was an audiobook play.

Kim N (crossreactivity) This is one of a handful of Agatha Christie mysteries I hadn’t read more than once.

I remember that I wasn’t very impressed the first time, probably because I identified the murderer early in the story and, being a rather jaded teenage reader, a mystery wasn’t great unless I was completely baffled.

Re-reading it now, I’m able to appreciate the characterizations and efficient plotting. As the tension builds, Christie is able to make you see the family through the eyes of the narrator. You feel the same dissatisfaction when the “right person” is arrested for the murder. And after the solution is revealed you feel the same horror, understanding and sadness. Knowing the murderer ahead of time just enhanced the experience for me this time around.

I think this has become one of my favorites :)

carol. | 32 comments I agree, Kim--this one only improved for me as a mature reader. I worked my way through most of her books when I was in my teens and 20s, but this one was such an interesting character study that it mostly stood the test of time for me. I was less enamored of the mis-applied genetics this time around, but that's the time period. It was interesting to see the theory in fiction.

message 25: by Chris (new)

Chris (kitties) | 23 comments I really liked this book. I read it a longtime ago and forgot the storyline. The murderer was a surprise to me but it began to make sense in the last chapters.

˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 560 comments I have a few more pages to go but so far this may be my favorite!!

˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 560 comments Finished the book today. I was surprised by the ending. In my mind the culprit didn't seem the kind. I found the characters and the entire situation believable. I could understand the sadness about the truth instead of total anger. I'd definitely recommend this one. Now I've got to decide just how ruthless are the members of my family. :)

Debbie | 1 comments I finished this book a few days ago. I love the way Agatha Christie drops clues that each of the suspects could be the guilty party and it's up to you to figure out which one actually committed the murder.

˜”*°•.˜”*°• Sheri  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ | 560 comments Debbie wrote: "I finished this book a few days ago. I love the way Agatha Christie drops clues that each of the suspects could be the guilty party and it's up to you to figure out which one actually committed th..."

Did you figure out who before then end?

Renee | 447 comments Loved this book! I did figure out who the murderer was, but there seemed to be many clues pointing that way. I really enjoyed all the characters, especially Magda and her dramatic scenes. Like Brad, I do wish that Edith had been more thoroughly fleshed out because I liked her character and she had a really big part at the end of the story. Definitely recommending this one! (meaning I'll be lending it to my Dad to read since he loves Christie too and is always borrowing my books)

message 31: by Animated (new) - added it

Animated Alice | 10 comments Hi!

So... I wasn't quite surprised by the end of this book. I kinda of figured it out with Charles father tips (Taverner? Im not great with names :3). Josephine just analysing and talking about it and braguing of how much she knew. And then with the mention of that 1920s case... I just knew

Even though I couldnt help feeling shocked because of the fact that she was just a child. A monster, but still... I was like if I think it's it probably won't be... As always. And she is just a child.

Fooled once again.

Brilliant! Lovely to know that Agatha had as much fun writing it as I had reading it.

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