The year-long Agatha Christie Reading Challenge for 2021 rounds up with a book set in bad weather. The recommended title was this 1931 stand-alone and for me, it was one of the stronger of the Christie titles I’d read this year.
There’s a lightness and a great energy to it which made it a quick, perfect over-Christmas read. The bad weather is snow which has cut off the Devon hamlet of Sittaford. The Willets, South African mother and daughter and recent tenants of the big house have invited some of the other inhabitants for a get-together and during a playful séance a murder is predicted. When that comes true and a relative of the deceased is arrested, Emily Trefusis arrives in the area to prove the accused’s innocence. She joins forces with an ambitious young reporter who has arrived to present a resident with a competition prize to find out who the real murderer was.
The séance adds a bit of the supernatural to the proceedings which I actually like in Christie (it was also evident in another of her 1930’s novels “Murder Is Easy” which I also really enjoyed this year). The amateur sleuths are investigating alongside Inspector Narracott who is not convinced the police have the right person in prison. There’s well-paced to and fro-ing, as the weather improves, from Sittaford, the nearby village of Exhampton and the city of Exeter.
Emily proves a lively, spirited and very convincing character, enlisting the support of other residents to help crack the case. You can sense Christie’s approval of her which is not always evident in her characterisation. This book was a strong finish for the Reading Challenge.
I think for the time being a whole year of Christie is enough (these 12 books have moved the author up to number 2 in my most read list) but the Reading Challenge is gearing itself up again for 2022. You can find out more at agathachristie.com. For my next post I am intending to look back at my year of Christie. I’m thrilled that I have completed the challenge (especially as I am probably going to fall slightly short on my Good Reads Challenge to read 70 books in 2021).
The Sittaford Mystery was published in 1931 by Harper Collins. I read a paperback edition part of the 1930s Omnibus which also includes “Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?” “And Then There Were None” and the aforementioned “Murder Is Easy”.