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The Sittaford Mystery (Agatha Christie Mysteries Collection (Paperback)) Paperback – March 13, 2012
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“I cut my mystery teeth on Agatha Christie.” (John Lescroart, New York Times bestselling author)
“An excellent book to take away for a weekend reading.” (New York Times)
From the Back Cover
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. . . .
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The Plot:" Mrs Willett a recent émigré to England from her home in South Africa holds a party at Sittaford House. Present are her daughter Violet and four guests. A séance is held and a turning table spells out a spooky message reading, ';Trevelyan Dead-Murder.": Major Burnaby an acquaintance of Captain Trevelyan calls the police and the doctor. They arrive at the Trevelyan estate called Hazelmoor. There they find the dead Trevelyan. The retired murder victim has been bludgeoned to death with a sandbag used to keep out winter drafts. All of this occurs during a terrific snowstorm that has shut down travel in the gloomy Dartmoor region of Great Britain. The police arrest Jim Pearson the nephew of the murder victim. Jim';s fiancée is beautiful and brainy Emily Trefusis. Emily along with newspaper reporter Charles Enderby put on their thinking caps to solve the mystery.
Emily is a fascinating woman reminding this reader of an older version of America s Nancy Drew. The plot is complex with many characters and there pasts to sort out in typical Christie fashion. However, the explanation of the murder is simple and easily understood. This is one of the lesser known Christie novels but I found it to be a page turner. An excellent introduction to the delights of Agatha Christie!
It's worth noting that this was also previously published as "Murder at Hazelmoor." Since titles should be important and appropriate pointers to a story's heart, it's worth noting that the dichotomy is explained by the fact that the action seems to simultaneously take place in two places, even though there is only one dead body. Up in a remote village atop a bluff in the moor region, Sittaford, neighbors gather during a snowstorm to amuse themselves. Someone suggests a séance, though few really take it seriously. At first. Then the message that no one expects comes knocking through, that the landlord of the house, who is wintering 6 miles away down in a real town, at Hazelmoor, has been murdered. His old military pal leaves the party to investigate, even though it means walking a couple of hours in the snow. Indeed, he finds the body, obviously murdered, and the coroner puts the time at approximately the moment the "spirit message" was delivered up at Sittaford. Enter the sensible police inspector. And then, enter the bright young fiancé of the silly young man the Inspector arrests for the murder, who wants to save him. And, a journalist hoping to crack a big story. Soon, everyone is sleuthing and ferreting out each other's secrets.
It's a riot. Christie has populated the two towns with delightful characters. Her wit is in full force. The plot twists and red herrings abound. She has created an airtight world between the two places and says some smart things about living in a tiny remote village. She captures England circa 1931 nicely, the mood still recovering from World War I and grappling with modern times.