Short summary - The Sittaford Mystery
In a small town of Sittaford, retired captain Joseph Trevillian, who was reputed to be a woman-hater, built the house of Sittford House. Nearby, on the land he bought, he built several small houses, in one of which his friend, Major John Barnaby, settled. Trevillian rented a house to a certain Mrs. Willet, who came to England from South Africa with her daughter Violetta, and he himself went to a neighboring town. Friends are surprised: why come to cold England in winter from warm places?
Mrs. Willett often invites guests. This time, among them are Major Barnaby, a small dry old man, Mr. Rickford, a young man, Ronnie Garfield, and Mr. Duke, who lives in one of the neighboring houses. Ronnie offers to arrange a spiritualistic session. The spirit calls him a woman named Diana, and Violette predicts a trip to Italy with a man named Leonard. The spirit then tells Major Barnaby that his friend Captain Trevillian is dead. The major, who finds no room for concern, decides to visit his friend, despite the fact that the captain lives far away and there is heavy snowfall.
After two and a half hours, the major leads Constable and the doctor to the house of Trevillan, as no one opens the door. Suddenly, the doctor notices that the cabinet window is open. In the room where everything is turned upside down lies the murdered captain Trevillian. The murder occurred about two and a half hours ago. The skull was broken by a roll of cloth, with which he supported the door from the drafts.
The police inspector Narrot, who arrived the next morning, determined that the killer had entered the house through an open window, so Captain Trevillian himself let him in. The inspector meets with the departed servant of the deceased, Evans. Previously, Evans lived with the owner, but after marriage he had to leave home, as the owner could not stand women. From Evans, the inspector learns that the captain was a good athlete.
The inspector leaves for the Three Crowns Hotel, where Major Barnaby stayed. There he finds out that on the day of the murder a young man, James Pearson, arrived in the town, and that he was not at the hotel at the estimated time of the murder.
By testament, Major Barnaby should receive the cups and prizes of the deceased, and relatives should share the property: the current living sister, Mrs. Gardner, and the three children of the late sister, Mrs. Pearson. The inspector is very surprised that Major Barnaby received the news of the death of a friend during a seance. He considers this nonsense and does not think about it.
Major Barnaby finds correspondent Charles Enderby. His newspaper held a quiz, and only the major answered all the questions correctly. Now he has been awarded a prize - a check for a large sum. The major should have received a letter about this in the morning, but due to heavy snowfall the post office did not work.
Upon learning that the murder occurred, Charles decides to write an article about it. He learns from Evans that the quiz was won by the captain, who instead of his address informed the newspaper the address of the major.
The inspector visits Mrs. Gardner. At the time of the murder, she was absent, and her husband, a disabled person, did not leave the house at all. Mrs. Gardner rarely saw her brother, since he did not approve of her marriage, and there was nothing to help the investigation.
The inspector goes in search of the three nephews of the captain. Mrs. Dering’s niece also could not help the investigation - they were not at home during the murder. One of her brothers, Brian, lives in Australia, and the second, James Pearson, is the young man who settled in the Three Crowns Hotel on the eve of the murder. Upset young man reports that he came to see his uncle. They met, but James does not remember what time he left.
James's bride, Emily, turns to Charles for help. Her fiancé is accused of murder, but she is sure that he is innocent. The girl asks the journalist to help her investigate.
Emily asks her friend, a relative of the constable, to give her any information, and goes to Sittford. There, they rent rooms with Charles, posing as cousins.
The inspector visits Mrs. Willet. Inspecting the house and interrogating women gives nothing, but he notices that women are afraid of something, and Violetta faints at the mention of James Pearson.
Emily and Charles visit Major Barnaby. The major also considers the seances to be nonsense, but a premonition prompted him to visit a friend. He is also surprised at the behavior of Mrs. Willet, who persistently invited the captain to visit.
Emily does not believe in spirits and believes that someone at the table knew about the current murder, and arranged the situation as if the spirit had informed about it. At this moment, the bell rings - a criminal has escaped from prison.
Emily meets with Mr. Rickfort, who is interested in all kinds of crimes. The fact that the murder was committed by James Pearson seems uninteresting to him. He thinks the culprit is someone else. The ladies from Sittford House seem charming to him, and he sees nothing unusual in the fact that they settled here - the inhabitants of the south wanted to meet Christmas with snow.
The mistress of the house where Emily and Charles were staying is frightened by a fugitive criminal. Cliffs are nearby, and there are places to hide in their caves. Emily comes to Ronnie Garfield. His aunt, who cannot walk, knows that Emily is engaged to James Pearson and wants to see her. Aunt Ronnie reports that she paid attention to Mrs. Willet’s luggage and her conversations with her daughter. The ladies came from Australia, not from South Africa. Having come up with an excuse to find out the recipe for the cake, Aunt Ronnie sends Emily to Mrs. Willet, hoping that the girl will find out.
Emily meets Violet, as her mother feels bad. It is noticeable that the girl is very nervous. Frightened by murder and escape, the servants quit. When leaving, Emily hears that Mrs. Willet cannot wait for the evening. The girl understands that something must happen in the evening, so the Willlets calculated the servants.
Emily visits lawyer James, who reports that his client has done a debt, and his uncle refused to help him. After Uncle's death, James receives a significant amount.
Emily visits Mrs. Gardner. Aunt James is not at home. Emily decides to speak with her husband’s nurse, who confirms that Mrs. Gardner was not at home during the murder, and where she was is unknown. Mrs. Gardner herself did not grieve too much about her brother, since he did not want to help her with money.
Charles, at Emily's request, follows Sittford House in the evening. He sees that Violetta is meeting a man. The stranger notices Charles, a struggle ensues between them, and Charles realizes that this is Brian Pearson, James's brother.
Major Barnaby, along with Evans, comes to Captain Trevillan's house to pick up his things. Evans is surprised that he cannot find something important in the house.
Police are puzzled by the appearance of Brian Pearson. The young man arrived in England on the same boat as the Willets. He did not communicate with his family, and relatives did not know anything about him. Where Brian was at the time of the murder is unknown, and he does not want to say anything. Inspector Narracott visits the niece of Captain Trevillian Mrs. Dering. She and her husband are very surprised that Brian is in England.
Meanwhile, police arrest a fugitive convict. It turns out to be a certain Fred Fremantle. A completely respectable outwardly man led a double life, communicated with dark personalities, on his conscience of murder and robbery.
Police find that there were no passengers named Willlet on the ship that brought Brian Pearson to England, but Johnson's mother and daughter. Neither Johnson nor Willet is probably their real name.
Emily receives news that Evans is surprised at the loss of ski boots from the captain’s house. She decides to examine the house. In the pipe she finds the missing shoes. Emily guesses who the killer is.
At Sittford House, a spiritualistic session is again being held. It is attended by Ronnie Garfield, Major Barnaby, Mr. Rickford, Mrs. Willett with Violetta, Brian Pearson and Charles. Mrs. Willlet looks like a wreck, a broken, nervous creature. She and her daughter are going to leave these places. At the moment of the appearance of the spirit, there is a knock on the door, and Inspector Narracott, Emily and Mr. Duke, who turns out to be the ex-chief of the police, enter the room. The Inspector indicted the assassination of Captain Trevillan to Major Barnaby.
Emily gives an explanation. Having adjusted the session so that the spirit reported the murder, the major went home, put on his skis and came to them to the captain’s house. He knew that heavy snowfall would sweep tracks. After killing the captain, the major arranged everything as if he had just arrived on foot. In the morning, the major received a letter informing him that he was awarded a large sum of prize. He said that he did not receive it, but it was a lie - the post office worked in the morning.
Finding hidden boots that turned out to be ski boots, Emily began to search for skis. She found two pairs of skis, one of which had boots that fit, but not the other. It is clear that someone came skiing and hid the captain's shoes so that the deception would not be revealed.
Violetta tells Emily that the fugitive convict is her father. Many years ago, a horse kicked his hoof, and since then strange things began to happen to him. Violetta and her mother came here to be closer to him. On the boat, she met Brian, and they fell in love. Brian developed an escape plan, so he did not inform his family of his return. Now his father has pneumonia, from which he is unlikely to recover.
Charles confesses to Emily in love and offers to marry him, but the girl rejects the offer: she always loved James.