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Crooked House

Crooked House

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Crooked House

4/5 (69 ratings)
252 pages
3 hours
Feb 10, 2010


Written by Scribd Editors

Aristide Leonides, head of the Leonides household, is found dead of barbiturate poisoning. Certain it's not an accident, suspicions turn to his cunningly beautiful widow, a woman 50 years his junior who is now set to inherit an impressive fortune. Her rumored affair with a strapping young tutor does little to convince anyone of her innocence, but criminologist Charles Hayward has reason to question the intentions of the entire Leonides family.

Set in a sprawling, dilapidated mansion in an affluent suburb, Crooked House is yet another classic mystery from acclaimed author Agatha Christie. One of the best selling novelists of all time, and known around the world as the “Queen of Crime,” Christie described Crooked House as one of her personal favorites of her own published work.

With all of the charm and tragedy she's known for, Christie unravels a devastating family mystery that leaves readers in suspense, desperate for the next page and the next clue.

Feb 10, 2010

About the author

Agatha Christie is the world's best-selling mystery writer. She wrote eighty crime novels and short story collections, nineteen plays, and several poetry collections. Her books have sold more than a billion copies in the English language and another billion in a hundred other languages.

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Crooked House - Agatha Christie


I first came to know Sophia Leonides in Egypt towards the end of the war. She held a fairly high administrative post in one of the Foreign Office departments out there. I knew her first in an official capacity, and I soon appreciated the efficiency that had brought her to the position she held, in spite of her youth (she was at that time just twenty-two).

Besides being extremely easy to look at, she had a clear mind and a dry sense of humour that I found very delightful. We became friends. She was a person whom it was extraordinarily easy to talk to and we enjoyed our dinners and occasional dances very much.

All this I knew; it was not until I was ordered East at the close of the European war that I knew something else—that I loved Sophia and that I wanted to marry her.

We were dining at Shepheard’s when I made this discovery. It did not come to me with any shock of surprise, but more as the recognition of a fact with which I had been long familiar. I looked at her with new eyes—but I saw what I had already known for a long time. I liked everything I saw. The dark crisp hair that sprang up proudly from her forehead, the vivid blue eyes, the small square fighting chin, and the straight nose. I liked the well-cut light-grey tailor-made, and the crisp white shirt. She looked refreshingly English and that appealed to me strongly after three years without seeing my native land. Nobody, I thought, could be more English—and even as I was thinking exactly that, I suddenly wondered if, in fact, she was, or indeed could be, as English as she looked. Does the real thing ever have the perfection of a stage performance?

I realized that much and freely as we had talked together, discussing ideas, our likes and dislikes, the future, our immediate friends and acquaintances—Sophia had never mentioned her home or her family. She knew all about me (she was, as I have indicated, a good listener) but about her I knew nothing. She had, I supposed, the usual background, but she had never talked about it. And until this moment I had never realized the fact.

Sophia asked me what I was thinking about.

I replied truthfully: You.

I see, she said. And she sounded as though she did see.

We may not meet again for a couple of years, I said. I don’t know when I shall get back to England. But as soon as I do get back, the first thing I shall do will be to come and see you and ask you to marry me.

She took it without batting an eyelash. She sat there, smoking, not looking at me.

For a moment or two I was nervous that she might not understand.

Listen, I said. "The one thing I’m determined not to do, is to ask you to marry me now. That wouldn’t work out anyway. First you might turn me down, and then I’d go off miserable and probably tie up with some ghastly woman just to restore my vanity. And if you didn’t turn me down what could we do about it? Get married and part at once? Get engaged and settle down to a long waiting period? I couldn’t stand your doing that. You might meet someone else and feel bound to be ‘loyal’ to me. We’ve been living in a queer hectic get-on-with-it-quickly atmosphere. Marriages and love affairs making and breaking all round us. I’d like to feel you’d gone home, free and independent, to look round you and size up the new post-war world and decide what you want out of it. What is between you and me, Sophia, has got to be permanent. I’ve no use for any other kind of marriage."

No more have I, said Sophia.

On the other hand, I said, I think I’m entitled to let you know how I—well—how I feel.

But without undue lyrical expression? murmured Sophia.

"Darling—don’t you understand? I’ve tried not to say I love you—"

She stopped me.

I do understand, Charles. And I like your funny way of doing things. And you may come and see me when you come back—if you still want to—

It was my turn to interrupt.

There’s no doubt about that.

There’s always a doubt about everything, Charles. There may always be some incalculable factor that upsets the applecart. For one thing, you don’t know much about me, do you?

I don’t even know where you live in England.

I live at Swinly Dean.

I nodded at the mention of the well-known outer suburb of London which boasts three excellent golf courses for the city financier.

She added softly in a musing voice: In a little crooked house….

I must have looked slightly startled, for she seemed amused, and explained by elaborating the quotation. "‘And they all lived together in a little crooked house.’ That’s us. Not really such a little house either. But definitely crooked—running to gables and half timbering!"

Are you one of a large family? Brothers and sisters?

One brother, one sister, a mother, a father, an uncle, an aunt by marriage, a grandfather, a great-aunt, and a step-grandmother.

Good gracious! I exclaimed, slightly overwhelmed.

She laughed.

Of course we don’t normally all live together. The war and blitzes have brought that about—but I don’t know—she frowned reflectively—perhaps spiritually the family has always lived together—under my grandfather’s eye and protection. He’s rather a Person, my grandfather. He’s over eighty, about four foot ten, and everybody else looks rather dim beside him.

He sounds interesting, I said.

He is interesting. He’s a Greek from Smyrna. Aristide Leonides. She added, with a twinkle, He’s extremely rich.

Will anybody be rich after this is over?

My grandfather will, said Sophia with assurance. "No soak-the-rich tactics would have any effect on him. He’d just soak the soakers.

I wonder, she added, if you’ll like him?

Do you? I asked.

Better than anyone in the world, said Sophia.


It was over two years before I returned to England. They were not easy years. I wrote to Sophia and heard from her fairly frequently. Her letters, like mine, were not love letters. They were letters written to each other by close friends—they dealt with ideas and thoughts and with comments on the daily trend of life. Yet I know that as far as I was concerned, and I believed as far as Sophia was concerned too, our feelings for each other grew and strengthened.

I returned to England on a soft grey day in September. The leaves on the trees were golden in the evening light. There were playful gusts of wind. From the airfield I sent a telegram to Sophia.

Just arrived back. Will you dine this evening Mario’s nine o’clock Charles.

A couple of hours later I was sitting reading the Times; and scanning the Births, Marriages and Deaths column my eye was caught by the name Leonides:

On Sept. 19th, at Three Gables, Swinly Dean, Aristide Leonides, beloved husband of Brenda Leonides, in his eighty-eighth year. Deeply regretted.

There was another announcement immediately below:

Leonides—Suddenly, at his residence, Three Gables, Swinly Dean, Aristide Leonides. Deeply mourned by his loving children and grandchildren. Flowers to St. Eldred’s Church, Swinly Dean.

I found the two announcements rather curious. There seemed to have been some faulty staff work resulting in overlapping. But my main preoccupation was Sophia. I hastily sent her a second telegram:

Just seen news of your grandfather’s death. Very sorry. Let me know when I can see you. Charles.

A telegram from Sophia reached me at six o’clock at my father’s house. It said:

Will be at Mario’s nine o’clock. Sophia.

The thought of meeting Sophia again made me both nervous and excited. The time crept by with maddening slowness. I was at Mario’s waiting twenty minutes too early. Sophia herself was only five minutes late.

It is always a shock to meet again someone whom you have not seen for a long time but who has been very much present in your mind during that period. When at last Sophia came through the swing doors our meeting seemed completely unreal. She was wearing black, and that, in some curious way, startled me. Most other women were wearing black, but I got it into my head that it was definitely mourning—and it surprised me that Sophia should be the kind of person who did wear black—even for a near relative.

We had cocktails—then went and found our table. We talked rather fast and feverishly—asking after old friends of the Cairo days. It was artificial conversation, but it tided us over the first awkwardness. I expressed commiseration for her grandfather’s death and Sophia said quietly that it had been very sudden. Then we started off again reminiscing. I began to feel, uneasily, that something was the matter—something, I mean, other than the first natural awkwardness of meeting again. There was something wrong, definitely wrong, with Sophia herself. Was she, perhaps, going to tell me that she had found some other man whom she cared for more than she did for me? That her feeling for me had been all a mistake?

Somehow I didn’t think it was that—I didn’t know what it was. Meanwhile we continued our artificial talk.

Then, quite suddenly, as the waiter placed coffee on the table and retired bowing, everything swung into focus. Here were Sophia and I sitting together as so often before at a small table in a restaurant. The years of our separation might never have been.

Sophia, I said.

And immediately she said, Charles!

I drew a deep breath of relief.

Thank goodness that’s over, I said. What’s been the matter with us?

Probably my fault. I was stupid.

But it’s all right now?

Yes, it’s all right now.

We smiled at each other.

Darling! I said. And then: How soon will you marry me?

Her smile died. The something, whatever it was, was back.

I don’t know, she said. I’m not sure, Charles, that I can ever marry you.

But, Sophia! Why not? Is it because you feel I’m a stranger? Do you want time to get used to me again? Is there someone else? No— I broke off. I’m a fool. It’s none of those things.

No, it isn’t. She shook her head. I waited. She said in a low voice:

It’s my grandfather’s death.

Your grandfather’s death? But why? What earthly difference can that make? You don’t mean—surely you can’t imagine—is it money? Hasn’t he left any? But surely, dearest—

It isn’t money. She gave a fleeting smile. I think you’d be quite willing to ‘take me in my shift,’ as the old saying goes. And grandfather never lost any money in his life.

Then what is it?

It’s just his death—you see, I think, Charles, that he didn’t just—die. I think he may have been—killed….

I stared at her.

But—what a fantastic idea. What made you think of it?

"I didn’t think of it. The doctor was queer to begin with. He wouldn’t sign a certificate. They’re going to have a post-mortem. It’s quite clear that they suspect something is wrong."

I didn’t dispute that with her. Sophia had plenty of brains; any conclusions she had drawn could be relied upon.

Instead I said earnestly:

Their suspicions may be quite unjustified. But putting that aside, supposing that they are justified, how does that affect you and me?

"It might under certain circumstances. You’re in the Diplomatic Service. They’re rather particular about wives. No—please don’t say all the things that you’re bursting to say. You’re bound to say them—and I believe you really think them—and theoretically I quite agree with them. But I’m proud—I’m devilishly proud. I want our marriage to be a good thing for everyone—I don’t want to represent one-half of a sacrifice for love! And, as I say, it may be all right…."

You mean the doctor—may have made a mistake?

Even if he hasn’t made a mistake, it won’t matter—so long as the right person killed him.

"What do you mean, Sophia?"

It was a beastly thing to say. But, after all, one might as well be honest.

She forestalled my next words.

No, Charles, I’m not going to say any more. I’ve probably said too much already. But I was determined to come and meet you tonight—to see you myself and make you understand. We can’t settle anything until this is cleared up.

At least tell me about it.

She shook her head.

I don’t want to.


"No, Charles. I don’t want you to see us from my angle. I want you to see us unbiased from the outside point of view."

And how am I to do that?

She looked at me, a queer light in her brilliant blue eyes.

You’ll get that from your father, she said.

I had told Sophia in Cairo that my father was Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard. He still held that office. At her words, I felt a cold weight settling down on me.

It’s as bad as that, then?

I think so. Do you see a man sitting at a table by the door all alone—rather a nice looking stolid ex-Army type?


He was on Swinly Dean platform this evening when I got into the train.

You mean he’s followed you here?

Yes. I think we’re all—how does one put it?—under observation. They more or less hinted that we’d all better not leave the house. But I was determined to see you. Her small square chin shot out pugnaciously. I got out of the bathroom window and shinned down the water-pipe.


But the police are very efficient. And of course there was the telegram I sent you. Well—never mind—we’re here—together … But from now on, we’ve both got to play a lone hand.

She paused and then added:

Unfortunately—there’s no doubt—about our loving each other.

No doubt at all, I said. And don’t say unfortunately. You and I have survived a world war, we’ve had plenty of near escapes from sudden death—and I don’t see why the sudden death of just one old man—how old was he, by the way?


"Of course. It was in the Times. If you ask me, he just died of old age, and any self-respecting GP would accept the fact."

If you’d known my grandfather, said Sophia, "you’d have been surprised at his dying of anything!"


I’d always taken a certain amount of interest in my father’s police work, but nothing had prepared me for the moment when I should come to take a direct and personal interest in it.

I had not yet seen the Old Man. He had been out when I arrived, and after a bath, a shave, and change I had gone out to meet Sophia. When I returned to the house, however, Glover told me that he was in his study.

He was at his desk, frowning over a lot of papers. He jumped up when I came in.

Charles! Well, well, it’s been a long time.

Our meeting, after five years of war, would have disappointed a Frenchman. Actually all the emotion of reunion was there all right. The Old Man and I are very fond of each other, and we understand each other pretty well.

I’ve got some whisky, he said. Say when. Sorry I was out when you got here. I’m up to the ears in work. Hell of a case just unfolding.

I leaned back in my chair and lit a cigarette.

Aristide Leonides? I asked.

His brows came down quickly over his eyes. He shot me a quick appraising glance. His voice was polite and steely.

Now what makes you say that, Charles?

I’m right then?

How did you know about this?

Information received.

The Old Man waited.

My information, I said, came from the stable itself.

Come on, Charles, let’s have it.

You mayn’t like it, I said. I met Sophia Leonides out in Cairo. I fell in love with her. I’m going to marry her. I met her tonight. She dined with me.

Dined with you? In London? I wonder just how she managed to do that! The family was asked—oh, quite politely, to stay put.

Quite so. She shinned down a pipe from the bathroom window.

The Old Man’s lips twitched for a moment into a smile.

She seems, he said, to be a young lady of some resource.

But your police force is fully efficient, I said. A nice Army type tracked her to Mario’s. I shall figure in the reports you get. Five foot eleven, brown hair, brown eyes, dark-blue pinstripe suit, etc.

The Old Man looked at me hard.

Is this—serious? he asked.

Yes, I said. It’s serious, Dad.

There was a moment’s silence.

Do you mind? I asked.

"I shouldn’t have minded—a week

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What people think about Crooked House

69 ratings / 34 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    A tragedy as well as a murder story. It's a long time since I read this one and the poinancy of the murderers revalation is hard to beat. Comes once again with the theme of the need for the truth to enable the innocent to move on. Great story.
  • (5/5)
     In a sprawling mansion in the English countryside, the extremely affluent but extremely elderly owner lies dead on the floor of suspected barbiturate poisoning. An accident? Not likely when suspicion has already fallen on Aristide Leonides' luscious but grieving widow who is fifty years his junior and set to inherit his sizable fortune. It is also rumored that the lovely Widow Leonides is having an affair with the strapping young tutor who just happens to live on the family's estate. But Criminologist Charles Howard has his doubts about the entire Leonides' clan. He knows them intimately and also knows that in a household as shaky as Three Gables, nobody is on the level.I really enjoyed this book very much. I had actually never read it before but it was a very quick and absorbing read. I give this book an A!
  • (3/5)
    This is another book by Agatha Christie and the sleuth is not one of her famous recurring detective's. A kindly old rich man is murdered in his home surrounded by his family and loved ones. All of the suspects of course proclaim their innocence and devotion to the old man and can't think of any reason why someone would want to murder him, except for...This one did have a neat twist at the end, I might have seen it if I wasn't distracted by an accidental phrase I saw at the end of the book and made me think of the wrong person all the way through the book. It wasn't a very deep or tricky book but a fun short read.
  • (4/5)
    There is a forward in which Christie describes this as one of her favourite novels and a joy to write. It is certainly fun to read and is interesting because its not a Poirot or Miss Marple but personally I prefer some of her other books.
  • (4/5)
    Narrated by Charles Hayward whose fiancée, Sophia, won't marry him until the murderer of her grandfather, Aristide, is found. It's the autumn of 1947 and Sophia lives with her family - three generations of Leonides - in the family home 'Three Gables' or the 'crooked house'. Charles' father is Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard, who is investigating along with Chief Inspector Taverner. Also making inquiries is Sophia's twelve-year-old sister Josephine, who is obsessed with detective stories and spies continually on the rest of the household, writing down her observations in a secret notebook. All the family members had motive and opportunity, and none has an alibi. I didn't see this one coming at all - once again Christie's murderer is unexpected as is the motive.
  • (5/5)

    "Writing 'Crooked House' was pure pleasure and I feel justified in my belief that this is one of my best." Agatha Christie.

    Definitely my favorite as well......

    Aristide Leonides is dead of poisoning.... He wasn't a very nice man, yet he was a very rich man who took care of his family. Fully aware of his familys' shortcomings, he spoke the truth as he saw it, no matter whom he upset......

    Living with him in the old mansion were: his two sons & their wives, his three grandchildren, his first wife's sister, his young and beautiful second wife, and his grandchildren's tutor. All had alibis as well as the opportunity and motive for wanting the mean old man dead.

    Charles Hayward (the son of a Scotland Yard detective) is engaged to marry aristide's granddaughter, Sophia Leonides. At Sophia's behest, Charles is the one to investigate and solve the murder; for until he accomplishes the task, Sophia will not marry Charles.

    This was such a surprise ending.... I certainly never saw it coming nor did I ever see the clues for what they were.

    Definitely my favorite of all the Agatha Christie mysteries.... the one I could never figure out or guess what was coming next.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed this audiobook so much, I finished it in one day. It is such a charming little mystery. Hugh Fraser's narration was superb, and the story was great, keeping me guessing til the end. I do believe it is now my new favorite Christie novel.
  • (3/5)
    This was Agatha Christie's favourite among her novels, and as a reader it is easy to understand why. Christie is best known for her two sleuths, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, though this is a 'stand-alone' offering. The story is narrated by Charles Hayward, son of the Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard, and himself an ex-copper, or at least a former inspect at the Special Branch. Towards the end of the Second World War Hayward had been based in Cairo where he had met, and fallen in love with, Sophia Leonides. Once the war is over they return to Britain and plan to be married. In the meantime Sophia returns to her family home in one of London's suburbs. As is so often the case throughout Christie's novels, three generations of the Leonides family live together in the house owned by wealthy patriarch Aristide Leonides. Shortly after her return home, however, Astride is dead, and it soon transpires that he has been murdered. As a consequence of the prominence of the victim, Scotland Yard becomes involved in the investigation and, predictably, Hayward is asked to help out.When I was about thirteen or fourteen I read dozens of Agatha Christie's novels, one after another, in that slightly obsessive manner that adolescent boys so often have. I enjoyed them but devoured them simply at face value. Re-reading this one nearly forty years later I now recognise that there was a lot of social comment in her depictions of domestic life. There is a wry, understated satire to her works. Her books are, however, redolent of their time. For instance, Christie is perfectly happy to describe Josephine, the younger sister of Sophia, as 'a fantastically ugly child'. I doubt whether any modern novelist would care to be so brutal.Christie's prose is never glossy but she has an almost journalistic knack of telling the story with the minimum of fuss. Her characterisations may now seem slightly clichéd, but she always maintains a simple verisimilitude. It is, however, with her plotting that she holds the reader's attention. This book is certainly no exception. The plot is tightly constructed, and the denouement comes as rather a shock, though the clues were all there.I was very glad to have revisited this novel after so long, and I may well try my hand at several more from her prolific output.
  • (4/5)
    This is my second Christie novel, and I enjoyed it quite a bit! There is a murder in the "crooked house", and everyone - family, staff, visitors - is a suspect! It plays out quickly, and smartly, and I was very satisfied with the revelation of who-done-it! I'm also very inclined to try out a third helping of Ms. Agatha!
  • (4/5)
    I read this Agatha Christie novel having watched the Channel 5 TV adaptation just before Christmas. Needless to say, this was a mistake as the TV version was, unlike some others, very faithful to the book, so I knew about the startling conclusion as to who among his dysfunctional household killed wealthy Aristide Leonides. This is well plotted and keeps the suspense up, but I'm still not sure I find the conclusion convincing in practice, though. This is the first Christie novel I have read that does not feature Poirot, Miss Marple, or Tommy and Tuppence.
  • (5/5)
    I am a huge Agatha Christie (15 /09/1890—12/12/1976) fan. I have possibly all of her books, and nearly all the television and film versions of her works, starring a variety of Hercule Poirots (my best is David Suchet) and Miss Marple (Margaret Rutherford, Joan Hickson and Julia McKenzie tops). According to the Guinness Book of records, Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. Often referred to as the “Queen of Crime,” she is also regarded as a master of suspense, plotting, and characterisation.Recently I started rereading her work and began with Crooked House, one of the seven novels inspired by nursery rhymes. Agatha Christie described this as her favourite book. She says in the author’s foreword: “This book is one of my own special favourites. I saved it up for years, thinking about it, working it out, saying to myself, ‘One day when I’ve plenty of time, and want to really enjoy myself—I’ll begin it! … Crooked House was pure pleasure.’”Three generations of the Leonides family live together under the roof of wealthy patriarch Aristide. His first wife died; her sister Edith has cared for the household since then. His second wife is the indolent Brenda, decades his junior, who exchanges love letters with the grandchildren's tutor, Laurence Brown. After Aristide is poisoned by his own eye medicine (eserine), his granddaughter Sophia tells narrator and fiancé Charles Hayward that they cannot marry until the killer is apprehended. Charles' father "The Old Man" is the Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard, so Charles investigates from the inside along with assigned detective, Chief Inspector Taverner. It seems that everyone could have a motive. The ridiculously young wife Brenda wants to be free to marry the tutor. Then there’s Roger, the eldest son who needs money to prop up his tottering business. Second son Philip has always been jealous of Roger. Not to mention their wives (Clemency and Magda), who could also have motive for various financial reasons. Josephine, Aristides’s precocious granddaughter, tells Charles that the police are stupid and she has already worked out who the killer is, along with copious notes and clues in her little black notebook. When Josephine is attacked and Nanny is mysteriously poisoned by hot chocolate after Brenda and the tutor are arrested, the danger escalates to a surprise finish.This was the first time I’d read the book and it was great. The pace is good, the characters real (we have all met them somewhere along life’s path) and the suspense chilling. I am quite good at guessing the killer in various crime books, but this one stumped (and shocked) me completely. Charles is excellent as the sometimes-bumbling amateur sleuth. Sophia is sharp-witted and courageous. There’s a Roger and a Magda in every family. The family are at once torn apart and cling together in this time of adversity and stalking danger. Highly enjoyable! (A lesson about making a watertight will included!)
  • (4/5)
    I read almost all of Poirot and Miss Marple ages ago, but very few of Christie's stand-alones, and I got this one because it was at a large discount on Kindle.I'll give it three-and-a-half. As one other reviewer put it, there's great poignancy to the revelation of the murderer. Still, though, for someone who isn't that good at guessing Christie endings, I sort of saw this one coming.
  • (4/5)
    There was a crooked man
    and he went a crooked mile.
    He found a crooked sixpence
    beside a crooked stile.
    He had a crooked cat
    which caught a crooked mouse,
    And they all lived together
    in a little crooked house.

    Crooked House is a stand-alone novel. I.e. it does not feature any of Christie's established sleuths (Marple, Poirot, Tommy & Tuppence, etc.).

    The story tells of a young couple, Charles and Sophia, who decide to postpone any decisions on getting married until after the war. Once the time has come the engagement is again interrupted by a death in Sophia's family.

    From then on, trust is put to the test and motives are questioned. Everyone is a suspect and it is left to the couple to discover whom they can believe, or if they can at all.

    What is interesting with this story is the finding out who the murderer is almost takes a backseat to getting to know the characters of Sophia's relatives. What an interesting bunch of eccentrics! They are all suffering from a past dominated by the misanthropic grandfather who claimed to have killed two people in his youth.

    It's a marvellously dark story and it is easy to see why it was one of Dame Agatha's favourite mysteries.
  • (4/5)
    This was one of Agatha Christie's own favourite books, and I can see why. It was a lot of fun to read.
  • (3/5)
    Synopsis: Two people meet in a foreign country, but decide not to marry until they both return to England. However, the marriage still can't happen because her grandfather is killed. The only people who could have done it are the family and some old retainers. The very young, second wife, and the tutor are suspected, but the police think there could be someone else.Review: This was a rather interesting story that reminded me of 'The Bad Seed'.
  • (3/5)
    It's an Agatha Christie Book, they're all the same, but it's fun.
  • (1/5)
    Nope. Awful.
  • (5/5)
    The Leonides are a wealthy family, living in a sprawling mansion in England known as "Three Gables" or the Crooked House. The Second World War has brought all of the family members to live under one roof. Despite the hardships of the war, the Leonides have more than most could ask for thanks to the head of the household, Aristide. Things turn upside down when Aristide suddenly dies from a fatal barbiturate injection masquerading as his daily insulin injection. Suspicion immediately falls on Aristide's young widow, Brenda, who is responsible for his injections. Brenda has never been accepted by the Leonides family because of the twenty year age difference between her and her former husband, which leads the family to believe she was solely after his money.Charles Hayward met Sophia Leonides, granddaughter of Aristide, before he went away to fight in the war. Now that he has returned, he desperately wants to ask for Sophia's hand in marriage, but she will not allow it until the murderer has been caught. Charles teams up with his father and the Scotland Yard to track down the killer. Charles must get to know each member of this crooked family in order to marry the woman he loves. Who can be trusted in a family where everyone is out to make themselves look good?Agatha Christie does it again in CROOKED HOUSE! The reader is instantly drawn the Leonides family, which is filled with one interesting personality after another. Along with Charles, the reader must determine who they can trust and who is full of lies. Each family member has something to hide and those truths must come to light before the murderer is revealed. The ending to CROOKED HOUSE will leave you in shock! I highly recommend this novel to any reader looking to get to know more of Christie's work or simply an interesting mystery!
  • (3/5)
    Unlike any other mystery novel I have read, I found this one slightly predictable and was able to guess the culprit. However, it is still an engrossing story.
  • (4/5)
    This is narrated by a young man called Charles who wants to marry a girl called Sophia. Unfortunately her family is caught up in a murder enquiry. I found the family involved rather interesting, as they’re supposed to be a typical Greek origin family. They live in a rather oddly designed spacious manor house; Sophia is the oldest of the grandchildren. Inevitably there are caricatures: Sophia’s mother Magda is a classic drama queen, and her uncle is vague and clueless. There’s a maiden aunt who raised the grandchildren, a large and benevolent ‘nannie’, a morose teenage boy, and a talkative girl who wants to be a detective…however, I found both Charles and Sophia to be quite well developed, and the book is very readable. Inevitably this novel, first published in 1949, feels rather dated. However, both conversation and the story move at a good pace, and it’s a well-told tale. I surprised myself by guessing 'whodunit', but wasn't entirely certain until the final chapter. The ending is a little abrupt and somewhat morbid, but given the era, not unreasonable.
  • (4/5)
    I first read this book as a teenager, when I was going through a murder mystery phase. I'm happy to say it satisfied my adult self as well. The first time through, I was only interested in finding out who the murderer was and why they'd done it. Decades later, I remembered who the murderer was, so this time, I paid attention to how the story was put together and what the clues were. The book's not all that long, but Christie made each character so distinctive that you don't need a long story to get to know them. It's not Great Literature, but it's a crisp little mystery and was worth the read.
  • (4/5)
    The head of a family is murdered. All his familymembers are suspects. The son of a policeman has a romantic tie to the family and gets involved in finding the murderer.Good quality. Unexpected (?) ending.
  • (5/5)
    April 11, 1999Crooked HouseAgatha ChristieNot a Ms. Marple or Poirot mystery, but an “independent”, about a young man whose fiancé-to-be asks him to help her figure out who murdered her rich old grandfather (with a little help from the young man’s father, an Inspector or something). There’s a house brimming with suspicious characters, like the very young widow and the old man’s grown children who shared the house with him. The murderer is someone you’d never expect, though! I love the title, and only wish I’d thought of it first.
  • (4/5)
    Aristide Leonides had come to England as an impoverished Greek youth, and had built a fortune - and a lavish but slightly unusual house. At 85, the loving, wise, benificent family patriarch was found dead.Which member of the Leonides household could be crooked enough to have poisoned him?I find almost all of Agatha Christie's work to be very satisying reads, and this was no exception.
  • (4/5)
    Murder by poison. Eye drops “ersine” substituted for “insulin” in an insulin vial. Aristide Leonides’ is dibetic and every evening his young wife filled a syringe from one of the many insulin vials kept in the house. The poison could have been substituted at any time or by anyone, the murderer knowing that eventually the poison would be injected. This is written as a novel BUT every page has me seeing it as a stage play. There are no stage directions or anything indicating it is a play other than the characters themselves. They are so vividly drawn you can see Magda flounce from the room, Sophia adjust a picture frame to keep Magda on script or Roger bumbling into a room screen and apologizing to it. The denouement is classic Christie, a little of the psychology of Poirot combined with the village wisdom of the elderly Jane Marple. I recommend this to anyone who has missed this Christie gem.51
  • (4/5)
    Charles Hayward, the son of Assistant Commissioner Hayward of Scotland Yard, meets Sophia Leonides during the Second World War in Cairo; they fall in love but agree not to marry until Charles has returned to England once the war is finished. On his return he discovers that Sophia's grandfather, the wealthy entrepreneur Aristide Leonides, has just been killed. Preliminary investigations establish, without the shadow of a doubt, that he was poisoned. Straddling the middle ground between the police and a family friend, Charles begins to investigate everyone living in the Crooked House.Crooked House is an enjoyable mystery novel that puts the rather dysfunctional Leonides family under the microscope. Though the individual characters occasionally verge on stereotype, the story is well plotted and the puzzle suitably engaging. Agatha Christie plays with her own detective story conventions to good effect, and the ending is quite unusual.
  • (5/5)
    In an author's foreword Agatha Christie says this was a plot she had thought through for many years.The action takes place just after the second world war near London. Charles Hayward and Sophia Leonides had met two years earlier in Egypt and were determined to meet again after the war was over.They are back in London and have arranged to meet when Charles learns that Sophia's grandfather has been murdered. Charles' father, a member of Scotland Yard, suggests that Charles try to get an "inside" view of the family, talk to family members, to see if one is a murderer. We see events from Charles' point of view, and it is he who finally assembles the evidence, although in a sense a family member beat him to it.This is a book that keeps the reader guessing, although I have to admit that about a quarter of the way from the end I was pretty sure I knew who the murderer was. That's when, true to form, Agatha Christie threw a final red herring on the path. There's some interesting discussion of what makes a murderer. Charles' father who is a Scotland Yard Commander, believes that most murders are committed by family members because it is oily situations that the depth of hatred and frustration that precedes murder will occur. When the identity of the murderer is revealed he says he had known it for some time.
  • (4/5)
    In this stand-alone mystery, Charles Hayward meets and falls in love with Sophia Leonides when both are employed in Egypt shortly after World War II. Charles has another posting that will separate him for Sophia for two more years, and he announces his intention to propose to her as soon as he returns to England. Two years later, he arrives back in England to find the Leonides family mourning the death of its head, Sophia's grandfather, Aristide Leonides. While most people would assume that a man of his age (nearly 90) had died of natural causes, this doesn't prove to be the case. He was murdered. Sophia will not agree to marry Charles until the murder is solved, refusing to attach him to the suspicion that will hover over the family with an unsolved murder. Charles has no choice but to go to the family's estate and gather enough information to solve the crime. He'll have no trouble getting information from the police since his father is Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard.This is a characteristic Christie country house mystery with a surprising twist at the end. I didn't see it coming. In the author's foreword, Christie admits that this book is one of her favorites. The characters include the murdered patriarch who controlled the purse strings, two sons and their wives, three grandchildren (the youngest of whom reminded me very much of Flavia de Luce), a very young second wife, a poor relative taken into the family fold, and the younger grandchildren's tutor. There are young lovers separated by suspicion and a missing will. I deducted points because no one really solves the mystery. They discover a letter that reveals the details of the crime that others were only beginning to suspect..”..Some people, I suspect, remain morally immature. They continue to be aware that murder is wrong, but they do not feel it. I don't think, in my experience, that any murderer has really felt remorse . . . And that, perhaps, is the mark of Cain. Murderers are set apart, they are 'different'--murder is wrong—but not for them--for them it is necessary—the victim has 'asked for it,' it was 'the only way.'”
  • (4/5)
    Whatever you do, do not read a 1954 book by William March unless you do it after reading this review. and of course, this book itself. The Crooked House of the title refers more to the people living in the vast estate rather than the building itself. The book is set after WWII and it involves a woman who had worked for the Foreign Office (think spy) and the son of a Police Inspector. When Sophia’s grandfather is discovered to have been ingeniously poisoned, Charles Haywood is on the case, doing what his father might have done in similar circumstances. There is a large compliment of suspects including grandfather’s much younger wife who stands to inherit a huge fortune. Larry Brown, tutor for the children, and perhaps the younger wife’s lover, hangs about the place. Josephine, the precocious daughter and Edith, the grandfather’s unmarried sister-in-law are here along with a near-do-well son and his wife and a few others.No alibis of course, and toss in a rewritten will and the result is turmoil, back-biting and, of course, moe than one murder. This is a rather fun outing without the regular detectives. It is a stand alone which is one of Miss Christie’s better efforts. Plus it endures well and comes a few years before that first book I was talking about. Since it was snowing all day today (in the middle of April?) I thought this would make a nice addition to my “stay apart” library.
  • (5/5)
    Maybe it's just me, but sometimes, I think that Christie's stand-alones are the absolute best.