First published in 1931, The Sittaford Mystery is a stand-alone that doesn’t include Christie regulars Poirot or Marple.
In the English countryside, several people have a get-together at the rented home of two women (mother/daughter). They decide to play a game and table-turning is suggested. (For those unfamiliar, like me, it sounds suspiciously like using a ouija board). When the ‘spirits’ tell them that there has been a murder, one of the attendees decides he must go investigate. Surprise, surprise – the person does turn up dead. Long story short, when a suspect is arrested, his fiancé sets out to prove his innocence.
Interesting story that is well-paced and an enjoyable read. My only issues were based on the characters. Firstly, there were too many. Trying to keep track of the people who attended the party and their specifics was next to impossible. I almost felt that I needed to take notes to keep up and a 190 page mystery doesn’t justify taking notes. Secondly, I believe the fiancé I mentioned above is supposed to be our main character. Her first appearance isn’t until about 33% in but I could get over that. What didn’t sit as well with me is that in today’s review world she could be considered Mary Sue-ish. She is presented as an exceptionally attractive and bright young lady. I tired of hearing of her beauty, her brains, her tenacity. In most cases, I considered her manipulative – using her looks to trick men, mostly, into doing her bidding. The author appears to have intended her to be more adept at solving the murder than the actual police investigator yet most of what she does is ineffectual. She lucks into some good information. I also didn’t care for her casual dismissal of her fiancé’s intelligence. She tells almost everyone she talks to that he wouldn’t be smart enough to kill someone and get away with it. One of the final plot points is that she is with him simply because she can rule over him with her strength and intelligence. I have no problem with strong women or those that are the alpha in their relationship. BUT…manipulating and belittling men gives women a bad name. Just saying.
4/5 stars even with its’ flaws.