26 May 2022

Review: THE SITTAFORD MYSTERY, Agatha Christie

  • This edition read on my Kindle (Amazon)
  • Originally published 1931
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0046REG94
  • this edition Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins (October 14, 2010)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 289 pages
  • AKA THE MURDER AT HAZELMOOR (title for USA publication)
  • My original review (2009)

Synopsis (Amazon)

A seance in a snowbound Dartmoor house predicts a grisly murder…

In a remote house in the middle of Dartmoor, six shadowy figures huddle around a small 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 snow drifts blocking the roads, someone will have to make the journey on foot…

My Take

I've read this for my U3A Agatha Christie discussion group. As always I am amazed that in the 12 intervening years since I have last read this novel, I have forgotten the salient features, particularly the details of who did what. It came as a genuine surprise to discover the identity of the murderer, although I must admit that his identity crossed my mind, and was dis-counted, earlier in the novel.

So here are some of the elements in the novel we will discuss

  • The role of the seance as the harbinger of death. How did that work? Who was it that told the gathering that the message was for Major Burnaby?
  • What are the relationships between the various characters?
  • Why have Miss Willett and Mrs Willett really taken Captain Trevelyan's house?
  • What is the role of Emily Trefusis in solving the murder?
  • How effective is Inspector Narracott and what is the role of Mr Duke?
  • Who are the most memorable characters? What makes them so?
  • Which are the most effective red herrings?
  • This novel is a stand-alone, although I think at this stage Agatha Christie was still looking for a suitable sleuth. Will Inspector Narracott appear in future novels do you think?
  • What does the isolation of Sittaford House make you think of? What about the escaped convict scenario?
  • How credible is the secondary plot (the Willett scenario)
  • What did you think of Charles Enderby? How good is he as a journalist?
  • Why did the murderer commit the murder? Is the reason given plausible?

In 3 weeks we are going to view the ITV television version, which I was interested to find is a "Miss Marple." I think I can see which  character in the original is replaced by Miss Marple, even though that will involve eliminating some aspects of the original plot. I wonder if I am right. 

How do you feel about television productions that change the story of a novel?

My rating: 4.4

Agatha Christie novels that I've read


Margot Kinberg said...

I have to admit, I'm a purist when it comes to adaptations of novels. I like them to be as close as possible to the original story.

Kerrie said...

I agree Margot


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