Crooked House

I do not have as much time to read as I used to.

Does anyone else have this problem? Life gets busy, work piles up, deadlines loom . . . and things slip through the cracks. Bills have to be paid, the car needs an oil change, and if you don’t go to work in the morning, you’re going to get fired. Taking a day off to read a new book is not as easy as it once was.

And so, things slip through the cracks. Things like reading in a hammock on a lazy summer morning. After all, in our crazy, hectic lifestyles, who actually has time for things like that?

That is why, lately, I have become such a fan of Audible.

As much as I resent not having a real, honest-to-goodness book in my hands, Audible has freed me up to get to many books I wouldn’t have time for otherwise. Suddenly, I don’t need a morning off and a hammock. I can listen to books while I’m washing dishes, while I drive, while I’m cooking freezer meals or feeding my cat. The most mundane tasks are suddenly interesting, and I can actually accomplish something while I am lost in a book.

Revolutionary.

One of the books that I have found myself listening to recently is Crooked House by Agatha Christie. I have recently acquired a taste for Ms. Christie’s novels, beginning with, you may remember, And Then There Were None. The suspense and intrigue woven into her books—coupled with her dazzling characters—have captivated me from the first, and Crooked House was no exception. In this case, the cast of characters was comprised almost exclusively of a single family—a very strange, very twisted family. The lead character, a returning serviceman named Charles Hayward, returns to England in search of his fiancé, and finds himself in the middle of a family drama that he was in no way prepared for.

Sophia, his lady love, lives in a crooked house with her large—and very strange—extended family. At the center of the drama is Aristide Leonides, a wealthy, slightly crooked businessman who has built himself an empire on less than legitimate deals. When Charles arrives in London and contacts Sophia, he finds the household in turmoil, and Aristide dead.

Worse, the old man has been murdered, and Sophia quickly delivers an ultimatum. Unless the murderer is found and the case closed, she cannot possibly agree to marry anyone.

So begins Charles’ own investigation. Helped along by the chief of police—his own father—he plunges into a miasma of intrigue, secrets, and family grudges that go so deep it seems impossible to root out the truth.

Agatha Christie is truly the Queen of Crime. This story kept me guessing until just the last moment. I made theories—and changed them—a hundred different times, and the ending was one of the most satisfying and surprising of any of her novels. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good solid mystery.

What are murderers like? Some of them have been thoroughly nice chaps.

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