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Bertie

The Sittaford Mystery

I seem to have become a convert to Agatha Christie. Not that I 'disliked' her books before, I was just not bothered. I've always loved the dramas that the TV companies put out - Miss Marple, Poirot etc., but have not read any of her books since my teenage years and then not all that many. But perhaps Agatha Christie grows on you as you get older, for certain people anyway, because that's what's happened to me as I absolutely loved The Sittaford Mystery. It's my book twenty one for Bev's Vintage Mystery Bingo challenge and covers the category: A Country House mystery. It's also my book seven for Carl's R.I.P IX challenge. (My wrap-up post for this challenge is here if anyone is interested.)

Sittaford



Sittaford is a village that perches on a hill on Dartmoor. It's not in a pretty little valley with trees and a bubbling brook, but is high up, windswept and isolated, and you have to be hardy to live there. That's why the few inhabitants are surprised when a mother and daughter couple, the Willetts, take Sittaford house, built and owned by Colonel Trevelyan, for the winter. The Colonel moves into a nearby village but his close friend, Major Burnaby, continues to visit him on a regular basis.

The visits have to come to a temporary halt though as Sittaford is cut off by deep snow. Instead, the major goes to visit the Willetts for the evening along with a few other neighbours. A seance is suggested and, although not all are happy, it goes ahead. What happens is shocking. The glass suggests that Colonel Trevelyan is dead and was killed at 5.25 that evening. It must be nonsense. Mustn't it? Major Burnaby is sure of it but is uneasy enough to take himself off and walk through the darkness and the snow to where the colonel is staying to see if he is all right. He's not of course: he's been murdered.

Suspects are many and varied, his relatives - sisters, nephews, in-laws - all have reasons for wanting him gone. Others come under suspicion too, such as the man who 'does' for him, Evans, and his new wife. Inspector Narracott investigates, along with Emily Trefusis, the fiancé of one of the colonel's nephews who has been arrested, and Enderby, a journalist. It takes the combined talents of all of them to solve this hugely complicated case.

I wonder if I liked this so much because it was set on Dartmoor? I know the area and it's always nice when you're reading a book to be able to picture the setting easily. And I'm especially fond of 'snowy' backgrounds. The ravages of winter are not that great when you have to be out and about in them but sitting cosily in your favourite armchair reading about deep snow and cold temperatures is very enjoyable. To me anyway.

I don't think it was just that though. I liked everything about this story. Emily Trefusis was such an interesting character. A 'managing female' in the making but Christie didn't use this in a derogatory manner: she celebrated a strong woman who knew what she wanted and set out to get it. I loved that. She came over so powerfully it made me wonder if Christie was using herself as a model for the character - I seriously need to read her autobiography which is sitting on my bookshelf right now.

The other thing I've discovered I really like is the vein of humour running through some of Christie's books. I'd somehow not been aware of that and it's come as quite a surprise. Her humour is based on observations of people's behaviour, the bizarre things we all do and say. I wish I'd collected a quote or two but I forgot in the enjoyment of the book. Suffice to say she didn't just write crime books, she was a sharp observer of human nature and behaviour.

I gave The Sittaford Mystery a five on Goodreads. For me it just hit 'exactly' the right spot for all the reasons I've stated. I plan to read a lot more Agatha Christie but will have to be careful what I choose. Some of the plots of Poirot or Miss Marple stories are overly familiar from watching them on TV. I think there are plenty of others though - several series such as Tommy and Tuppence, a few standalones and loads of short stories, plus her autobiography which, after reading Come, Tell Me How You Live a few weeks ago, I now can't wait to read.

Comments

Oh, I know this one! I was going to say 'Is it the one with the...?' and then realised, that's part of the resolution, so I shall be quiet :)

Yes, she comes up with some good lines at times. I remember being startled by those myself.

Yes, you will enjoy her autobiography!
Love your icon! *g*

Yes, it's 'the one with the...' LOL! Very clever ending I thought. I'd considered that but didn't think it was possible.

I shall put her autobiography on my pile for next year. Yes... I'm already thinking of a reading plan for next year. *Is seriously deranged*
Oh, I'm the other way to you, I read and loved all the Agatha Christies I could get my hands on when I was a teenager, but haven't picked them up again since. I like the idea of this wintry one though, and I'm planning a Christmas-winter reading theme in December (when I'm all cosy in my own place, as you say!) so I shall bear this in mind... *g*

I'm also trying to get sorted enough to use Goodreads properly (I've just re-joined) and I'm eyeing my blogspot which I could have used to comment at your RIP Wrap Up post, except that it's tied to my other email (as is my Goodreads, now) which I have to open in a different browser, so I need to sort out my identities in general so that I can, and comment elsewhere, too... But anyway, well done on the seven RIP books, and I'm very impressed by the challenge-combining too! *g*
Ah, right. Well, this one would suit a Christmassy reading theme very well indeed with all that snow. I have a few Christmas books myself that I'd like to read but also want to read something a bit Victorian such as something by Wilkie Collins. Plus I have Outlander sitting there. Though I might leave that until early next year as part of my thoughts on 'reading some of my chunky books this year' idea for 2015.

Oooh, have you? Are you there under your own name or something else? Let me know and I'll friend you when you're ready.

I would have put that wrap-up post up here but it would have meant redoing all the links to posts here and as I'm sore around the shoulders a bit at the moment the idea seemed too daunting.
I like your Victorian idea!

I'm on Goodreads as Jennimen (same as the blogspot, which I shall sort out if I ever manage to get started on proper work today...), and would be delighted to be friended! *g* I'm going to make a better effort, I think, to post there and so on - I think I got stuck on the dauntingness of it all ages ago (wow, 2011, apparently - wasn't that just yesterday...?)
Victorian goes with Christmas, doesn't it?

Found you easily and friended you. Delighted you decided to give it asnother try. Hope it works better for you this time. I abandoned it myself years ago but now quite like it as a way to keep track by, for instance, having a year shelf for everything I've read this year. Also a shelf for the Africa challenge which I need to get back to. I think it's something to use in whatever way it works for you. I don't often, for instance, put reviews up there. Many do but I prefer LJ or Blogspot for that. You might find some of the groups interesting too.
Oh, a year shelf - see, I'd not even thought of that! And challenge shelves! Although I'm not allowed to add any more books or play until I've finished work. And caught up on NaNoWriMo...

I glimpsed something called "followers" when I was friending you back - is that the same thing just a different name, or is there something different, d'you know?

Also, I finally emailed you the other day, hope it got to you safely!
Yep and I must be pretty odd as I'm champing at the bit to start one for 2015. LOL!

Hope you got your work and the NaNoWriMo stuff done and can now play.

Followers are people that you haven't friended back as far as I know. I don't think I have any, just mutual friends. Authors and popular people tend to have loads of followers. *g*

Thanks for telling me about the email. I don't check gmail every day but have found it and will check the calendar tomorrow and email you back forthwith.
Followers are people that you haven't friended back as far as I know.
Ah, thank you - that makes sense! I couldn't find anything that linked to "followers", so I didn't know whether I should be making some distinction between "following" and "friending" when it came to, say authors with accounts I might want to keep up with.

I finished my re-read of A Death at the Dionysus Club this morning, and decided I'd have a go at a review - whether I'll keep that up I don't know, and of course I realise now that I'll need to post it to lj as well, since I do want to keep my book list here too, but... oh well, I'll work it out, I guess. Fun to see that you spotted it so quickly too (and thank you!) - now I know where you are all day! *vbg*
One of the nice things about Goodreads is that some of our favourite authors, such as Jo Walton, are on there and we mere mortals *g* can 'follow' them. I think it will then come up as them being a 'favourite author'.

Yes, I spend all my time on Goodreads. Guilty, M'lord. *cackles*

I don't think I've read any which don't have Marple or Poirot investigating so I must remember to look out for this one, it sounds like a good one. (Actually I tell a lie, I don't think And Then There Were None has either of those investigators.)
There are a small number of standalones. There's an excellent list of her books here:

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/c/agatha-christie/

I think you're right about And Then There Were None but I was a teen when I read so my memory may not be serving me right. *g*
Thank you for that link.
You're most welcome. :-)
I've been a Christie fan since I was about 12 years old, and still love her books. I've been re-reading them recently, and been pleasantly surprised to see that her writing hasn't "aged" at all. The humour and characterisations still work very well today - she really was a brilliant story-teller.

I think I'm lucky that I read and re-read her books many times before seeing the movies and TV series. Some of the changes made to the more recently produced Miss Marple series made my hair curl (and not in a good way!).

Edited at 2014-11-05 08:45 pm (UTC)
To be honest it strikes me that her work is pretty much timeless. The humour took me by surprise although I don't know why as Poirot on TV is full of it.

I know! I gather they turned The Sittaford Mystery into a Miss Marple! I must've seen it but can't remember... I've been told they also changed the ending.