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The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie

The Sittaford Mystery (1931)

by Agatha Christie

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Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Not overly satisfying mystery from a relatively early (1931) period of Christie's career. We have a Retired Military Man murdered, and two of the other figures in the story are Retired Military Men, too, one a foul-tempered one with an Indian manservant. Useless Nephew, Brash Journalist and Plucky Heroine all figure in the story, not to mention Stolid Police Detective with Even More Stolid Sergeant. Once you read things through, you can spot the clews, but Christie does do a bit of the Least Expected Suspect here, and does hide the ball a little bit by not having the key clues turn up until very late in the book. Some atmosphere with the Dartmoor setting -- there's a call out to Conan Doyle at one point -- but the sheer plethora of red herrings strewn across the path annoys more than anything else. Not one of Dame Agatha's works that I would personally recommend. (And the designer of the cover of my Dell edition needs to be spanked.) ( )
  EricCostello | Jul 25, 2018 |
The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie is a 1931 whodunit that starts with a seance being held in a country home during a heavy winter storm. A message comes through from “the other side” to say that the owner of the home, Captain Trevelyan is dead. His body is indeed found later that evening. The seance was being held by Mrs. Willett, the Captain’s winter tenant, who along with her daughter have taken residence for the winter months.

Agatha Christie has done it again, I was so sure that I had worked out the answer to this murder puzzle, but when all is revealed in the closing chapter, I wasn’t even close. The story is full of red herrings and false clues. The police charge one of the Captain’s nephews with the murder, but his clever fiancee, Emily makes it her mission to clear him.

I really enjoyed The Sittaford Mystery. The characters are well drawn, and the plot is well engineered. This book is considered her homage to The Hound of Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and there are certain elements that both stories have in common, such as the setting of Dartmoor and an escaped prisoner wandering the moor. But this is Agatha Christie and her style shines through with the country house setting and the big reveal at the end of the book. A fun and imaginative read. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Sep 20, 2017 |
Another solid entry in the Christie canon, but not a top one. I figured out most of the secondary plot's mysteries, but I was unable to nail down the culprit (from among those who "couldn't" have done it) before the intelligent and lovely Emily Trefusis did so for me. Of course, as was usually the case, Christie cheated the reader on at least two occasions. In one, we get something of an unreliable narrator chapter and in the other, we are not told about a critical piece of evidence that Ms Trefusis uncovers. If I have one overarching complaint about Christie, it is this penchant for stacking the deck like that. If you're not clever enough to outfox your readers without cheating, etc. I also liked what I saw of Inspector Narracott, who for some reason was later eclipsed by outing after outing after outing by a certain Poirot chap with lots of affectations. ( )
  jimgysin | Jun 19, 2017 |
You just can't go wrong with Agatha Christie. This is one of her stand alone novels. Captain Trevelyan built Sittaford House after retiring from the navy. He then rents it to a woman and her daughter and moves to a small village nearby. Several people visiting Sittaford House hold a séance and during the séance, Trevelyan's murder is announced. HIs friend, Major Burnaby, decides to walk six miles through a storm to find his friend and make sure he is ok. The major finds Trevelyan dead. The captain hasn't been very understanding or helpful to his sister and her children. Turns out one of his nephews, Jim Pearson, went to see the Captain just before he died and he is suspected of the murder. He is a rather vague and helpless young man but he has a feisty and intelligent fiancé, Emily, who tries to figure out who the real guilty person is and she does with the help of the police.
  taurus27 | Mar 3, 2017 |
"Major Burnaby drew on his gum boots, buttoned his overcoat collar round his neck, took from a shelf near the door a hurricane lantern, and cautiously opened the front door of his little bungalow and peered out."

I love this opening paragraph. It sets the scene for one of my favourite cozy mysteries: A small village near Dartmoor - you know, the misty remote parts of Baskerville fame.
Some of the villagers have are gathering for tea and enjoy a game of table-turning, adding a supernatural edge to the already eerie setting.

As the party enjoys the movements of the ouija board, it spells out a name and the party is stunned:

"Supposing something had happened to Captain Trevelyan…

Anyway, not to take too much away from the ensuing story, there is a murder and a subsequent investigation, and a number of potential culprits. After all, this is Christie mystery.

What makes The Sittaford Mystery stand out for me is that there is lightheartedness and humor in this story which is lacking in some of her other books, and there is a female lead who cracks the confines of her role:

So, one hand she proclaims that:

"One can’t do anything without a man. Men know so much, and are able to get information in so many ways that are simply impossible to women."

And on the other, only a few pages later she takes charge of the investigation:

"‘Well,’ said Emily rising to her feet. ‘It’s about time we went back to the Three Crowns, and I will pack my suitcase and do a short weeping act on Mrs Belling’s shoulder.’

‘Don’t you worry,’ said Mr Enderby rather fatuously. ‘You leave everything to me.’

‘That’s just what I mean to do,’ said Emily with a complete lack of truth. ‘It’s so wonderful to have someone you can really rely on.’ Emily Trefusis was really a very accomplished young woman."

A brilliant read for admirers of the cozy mystery and the classic Christie who-dunnit. I still have to re-read some of the stories that pre-date The Sittaford Mystery (1931) but at the time of writing this one, Christie had already found her forte of setting the story in a confined space and letting psychology drive the story.

Review first posted on BookLikes: http://brokentune.booklikes.com/post/774243/the-sittaford-mystery ( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
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with whom I discussed the plot of this book,
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Major Burnaby drew on his gum boots, buttoned his overcoat collar round his neck, took from a shelf near the door a hurricane lantern, and cautiously opened the front door of his little bungalow and peered out.
It's so wonderful to have someone you can really rely on.
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aka Murder at Hazelmoor
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312979819, Mass Market Paperback)

M-U-R-D-E-R. It began as an innocent parlor game intended to while away the hours on a bitter winter night. But the message that appeared before the amateur occultists snowbound at the Sittaford House was spelled out as loud and clear as a scream. Of course, the notion that they had foretold doom was pure bunk. Wasn't it? And the discovery of a corpse was pure coincidence. Wasn't it? If they're to discover the answer to this baffling murder, perhaps they should play again. But a journey into the spirit world could prove terribly dangerous--especially when the killer is lurking in this one.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:19 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"In a remote house in the middle of Dartmoor, six shadowy figures huddle around a table for a seance. Tension rises as the spirits spell out a chilling message: "Captain Trevelyan...dead...murder." Is this black magic or simply a macabre joke? The only way to be certain is to locate Captain Trevelyan. Unfortunately, his home is six miles away and, with snowdrifts blocking the roads, someone will have to make the journey on foot..."--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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