Book Of The Month Crooked House

Book of the Month

Book of the Month: Crooked House

The Leonides were one big happy family living in a sprawling, ramshackle mansion. That was until the head of the household, Aristide, was murdered with a fatal barbiturate injection. Suspicion naturally falls on the old man’s young widow, fifty years his junior. But the murderer has reckoned without the tenacity of Charles Hayward, fiancé of the late millionaire’s granddaughter…

Agatha Christie’s Crooked House was first published in 1949, receiving glowing reviews, including one from The Observer which described it as ‘one of her best’ full of ‘delicious red herrings.’ Like a few of Christie’s other stories, the title of the novel is derived from a children’s nursery rhyme – ‘There was a crooked man’, which includes the line ‘and they all lived in a crooked little house.’

Along with Ordeal by Innocence, Agatha Christie described Crooked House as one of her detective books that satisfied her best. In the novel’s heartfelt foreword, Christie writes:

This book is one of my own special favourites. I saved it up for years, thinking about it, working it out, saying to myself: “One day, when I’ve plenty of time, and want to really enjoy myself – I’ll begin it.
Agatha Christie

The story focuses around the suspicious death of millionaire Aristide Leonides, who on his passing is found to have left behind an unsigned will. His granddaughter Sophia Leonides’ fiancé, Charles Hayward, arrives to infiltrate the Leonides household, questioning the residents within, which soon leads him to believe that all could be suspects. After close observation Hayward makes a terrible and shocking discovery.

The shock ending was nothing new for Agatha Christie, but it certainly surprised her readers. It was so scandalous in fact that her publisher at the time wanted her to change the ending. Christie fortunately refused.

Until 2017, Agatha Christie’s Crooked House had never been adapted for the screen, but this year Sony Pictures are bringing the thrilling story to life in a film adaptation starring Gillian Anderson, Glenn Close and Christina Hendricks. Find out more.

Join the conversation

Keep updated with our newsletter