Crooked House

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Crooked House

By Agatha Christie (1949)

I never really quite understand why some writers’ and their books can remain in circulation after so many years of their death. After reading the book, I think it confirms the reason why Agatha Christie is one of the most remembered and well known mystery writer for many years. Her book is just so CLASSIC and there is so much style and depth. Crooked House also happens to be one of Agatha Christie’s favorite novel.

 

Three generations of the Leonides family live together in a large, if somewhat crooked looking, house. Then the wealthy patriarch, Aristide, is murdered.  Suspicion falls on the whole household, including Aristide’s two sons, his widow – fifty years his junior – and even his three grandchildren.

Charles asked his father “What are murderers like?”

His father said some murderers are nice people, these ordinary chaps have been overtaken, as it  were by murder, almost accidentally. They have been in a tight place, or they’ve wanted something very badly, money or a woman – and they’ve killed to get it. The brake that operates with most of us doesn’t operate with them. A child, you know, translates desire into action without compunction. A child is angry with its kitten, says “I’ll kill you,” and hits it on the head with a hammer and then breaks its heart because the kitten doesn’t come out alive. They get-very early to a stage when they know that it is wrong – that is the action will be punished. Later, they get to feel that it is wrong. But some people, 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. 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.”

 

Charles’s father give him some tips on how to pick out a murderer from a household of apparently normal and pleasant people.  The common denominator is vanity. It is a murderer’s vanity that leads to their undoing, nine times out of ten. They may be frightened of being caught, but they can’t help strutting and boasting and usually they’re sure they’ve been far too clever to be caught. And a murderer wants to talk. Having committed a murder puts one in a position of great loneliness. You’d like to tell somebody all about it – and you never can. And that makes you want to all the more. And so – if you can’t talk about how you did it, you can at least talk about the murder itself – discuss it, advance theories – go over it.

When I read to the ending and found out about the murderer, I was so touched by the aunt Edith de Haviland’s love for the family. It’s very touching how an old aunt loves all the family members and is willing to take things into her own hands.

 

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