“Major Burnaby drew on his gum boots, buttoned his overcoat collar around his neck, took from the shelf near the door a hurricane lantern, and cautiously opened the front door of his little bungalow and peered out.”
Originally Published as: The Murder at Hazelmoor
Detective: Emily Trefusis with Inspector Narracott
Length: 228 pages
Setting: Sittaford & Exhampton, Dartmoor
When Captain Treveylan rents his house out at Sittaford to Mrs. Willett and her daughter, Victoria, everyone is perplexed. Why would this wealthy South African pair want to bury themselves in the country in the dead of winter and why is so little known about them? Major Burnaby, the close friend of Treveylan, is puzzled as well, but when a party at Sittaford goes awry, with a floating table knocking out a message of the death of Treveylan, Burnaby sets out in a blizzard to Exhampton to check on his dear friend at his rented residence. Alas, the message turns out to be correct and a search is on for the murderer.
Inspector Narracott begins to piece together the clues, but he did not anticipate the appearance of Emily Trefusis, the fiance of the accused, Jim Pearson, who is the nephew of Treveylan and a beneficiary of his will along with another nephew, a niece, and Trevelyan’s sister. Emily is not a young lady to take no for an answer and sets off with determination and imagination to root out the murderer and free the man she loves.
Yet Emily is not the only sleuth on the block. Charles Enderby, a journalist with a taste for a scoop is engaged by Emily to assist in her investigation, and Mr. Rycroft, of cottage number 3 on the Sittaford estate, offers his extensive criminology experience. A plethora of unexpected connections appear among suspects and non-suspects, and the reader is left puzzling over the possible implications. Emily, however, is undaunted and with Charles as her Watson, she navigates her way through the village inhabitants and the clues to unearth a surprising culprit to the bloody deed.
This novel was certainly not as fluid as some of the other Christie novels that I’ve read. The reader goes from here to there to here to there and back again, dragged along by the sleuthing. It’s definitely entertaining though, as Christie tosses out a number of red herrings to convolute both the characters’ and the reader’s detection process. I actually guessed the murderer at the beginning in a rash determination so I didn’t really believe my surmise and thus was, in a way, surprised at the ending.
The next up is another Poirot novel, Peril and End House and I’m looking forward to being reacquainted with this very well-known detective!