Ooh, I got really into this one.
It’s been a month since I’ve finished so I’ve had some time to think (though I do of course wish I’d written the review right away, but alas) and I think the reason that I loved this one so much is that it’s one of the few non-detective mystery novels to get the mystery part right and have it be believable. A lot of the time, as a mystery fan when encountering books with non-detective main characters, there is a lot of disbelief suspension going on, because it’s difficult to find plausible reasons for non-detectives to be involved in solving murders (one of the many reasons I have such a hard time with cozy mysteries). But it flows so seamlessly here! And I liked all the characters, found the mystery intriguing, and didn’t guess the ending (and it was a good one!)
Our main character in Crooked House is Charles Hayward, who meets Sophia Leonides in Cairo at the tail end of WWII. They get engaged to marry, but put off the wedding until after the war is over. Soon after that happens, Charles is headed back to England and the first stop he makes is to see Sophia, but it turns out her grandfather—wealthy patriarch Aristide Leonides—has recently been murdered, and Sophia doesn’t want to marry until his murder has been solved. Charles’s father is an assistant commissioner of Scotland Yard, so he is familiar with policing, and has information on the case the family doesn’t. Charles decides to poke around the Three Gables house and see if he can ferret out a murderer, with the approval of Scotland Yard.
One of the reasons this one is so fun is that the Leonides family is large and chaotic, and they have tangled, codependent lives with one another (mostly filled with love, but still, this is the reason for the title of the book), because they all live in the house together.
I would say this book has one of Christie’s best endings, certainly one of the most shocking, if not plot-wise (there are always people who figure out the mystery, even if I’m not one of them) then certainly in terms of emotion. It’s almost thriller-esque. I feel like this one is up there for me with And Then There Were None and The ABC Murders for me, in terms of favorites, which I definitely didn’t expect going in!