Friday, March 12, 2010

The Sittaford Mystery (also known as The Murder at Hazelmoor) (1931) - A book by Agatha Christie

First things first, why 2 separate titles ? Well, this was the first book by Agatha Christie that had 2 different titles, with a different title for the US version of the book - The Sittaford Mystery in England, and The Murder at Hazelmoor in the United States. It is also the first book in which Agatha Christie introduced some amount of angle dealing with the supernatural, in terms of an Ouja board (also known as a seance in which a spirit is called to answer questions). And when a spirit is called, what do they get to know ? Well, the spirit tells them that Captain Trevelyan, owner and landlord of the house is now dead. A friend of Captain Trevelyan, who is there at the house at that point of time, Major Burnaby, does not really believe in the supernatural, but is worried enough that he decides to go to check on the Captain, even thought it is 6 miles away, and there is a proper winter storm ongoing. But when they get there, they find that the captain is lying dead, murdered. And of course, there are many suspects.
The book got decent reviews when it was published, being compared in terms of mystery and suspense with her other books. The book was dedicated to her second husband, Max Mallowan, whom she married in 1930 after her divorce from her earlier husband.

However, when the novel was made into a television production, it was modified to include Miss Marple, with another major difference, Captain Trevelyan was shown at the seance. In the end, the killer was modified to be different from the book.
Captain Trevelyan, who owned a large mansion known as Sittaford House, was actually staying in a smaller house in Exhampton, since a South African lady and her daughter (Mrs. Willett and her daughter Violet) were wanting to spend a British winter in the house, and had been so insistent that he had moved away and leased the house to them. Once the murder was discovered, the investigation is done by Inspector Narracott, and the relatives of the dead man were all suspects. One of them is Jim Pearson, the nephew of the dead man, who has a girlfriend called Emily Trefusis (a bright spark in the story) who refuses to believe that her boyfriend was involved, and who tries to investigate to get him cleared.

The Sittaford Mystery (also known as The Murder at Hazelmoor) (1931) - A book by Agatha Christie, about the death of a man, foretold by the spirits

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