RogerBW's Blog

The Sittaford Mystery 06 January 2021

1990 audio adaptation of Christie's 1931 mystery, in 5 half-hour episodes. At a table-turning session in a near-snowbound house on the edge of Dartmoor, the spirit claims that Captain Trevelyan has been murdered. When the party gets down to his house later, so he has. The fiancée of the prime suspect works to clear his name.

So it's not one of the series books, but a stand-alone murder without recurring cast. Emily the investigator barely turns up until the third part. The whole thing is quite slight; the book's only about 60,000 words, usual for the day, and I'm a little surprised it was given 2½ hours of adaptation when The Pale Horse only got 1½.

Still, most of the book is here, if juggled around slightly for convenience of not having too many voices in a scene. The key clues are certainly present, and reasonably well-signposted; I don't remember when I first read this or whether I solved it, though I think that to the experienced mystery reader there's a certain style of harping on irrelevancies which makes it apparent that this bit of distraction is likely to be the one that conceals something valuable.

Production is decent, and effects are applied with a light hand. There are no especially famous names, but everybody here does a decent job without stealing the scenes – though I wish they could have found a lead who could be trained not to swallow the "t"s at the ends of words; this is supposed to be the 1930s, after all, and it quite breaks my illusion that this is a well-brought-up young lady.

Nothing revolutionary, but a faithful adaptation and an enjoyable couple of hours.

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