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The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha…
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The Mysterious Affair at Styles (original 1920; edition 2007)

by Agatha Christie

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This is the very first Agatha Christie novel, written and set during the First World War, though not published until 1921. It is also the first Hercule Poirot novel, with the famous Belgian detective being a refugee in England having fled the invasion and subjugation of his country by the Kaiser's army. He is first described as follows:

"Poirot was an extraordinary-looking little man. He was hardly more than five feet four inches, but carried himself with great dignity. His head was exactly the shape of an egg, and he always perched it a little on one side. His moustache was very stiff and military. The neatness of his attire was almost incredible; I believe a speck of dust would have caused him more pain than a bullet wound."

Even on his first appearance, he is regarded by several characters as an old eccentric who is already past his prime). Nevertheless, he of course sees through a tortuous set of clues to solve a murder, the final resolution of which seemed even more than usually convoluted and, frankly, absurdly risky from the murderer's point of view. The narrative did not feel particularly dated to me, unlike the last Christie novel I read, the Tommy and Tuppence novel The Secret Adversary, set in the 1920s. One interesting touch in this edition is the inclusion as an appendix of an alternative penultimate chapter where the plot threads are resolved, discovered in one of Christie's notebooks decades later; though the essential difference rests only in its taking place in a courtroom where Poirot is being cross-examined, rather than in the Styles House with the detective doing his standard presentation in the drawing room in front of all the principal actors. ( )
  john257hopper | May 22, 2017 |
Christie's spare, economical writing style and cleverness amaze me. I look forward to reading more Poirot books. ( )
  ReinaMWilliams | Mar 31, 2017 |
The first Hercule Poirot novel - a delightful listen with a great narrator. ( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
While I enjoyed the overall plot and threading of the plot, I simply could not get over Hercule Poirot hiding information.

While it is explained in the end, the idea of hiding information about murder is just anathema to me. What if Poirot had been killed, or hurt or damaged in some way? Then all of his hiding of info would have been worse than useless!

So I am going to continue to read mysteries, as they are a different genre. But if this evasive selfishness is a standard part of the characters, then I don't know how long I'll keep with Christie. ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
The Mysterious Affair at Styles was Agatha Christie's debut novel and as such the first one to feature her famous and hugely popular detective Hercule Poirot. Narrated by his friend Captain Hastings, the scene is set before Poirot appears in the story. Hastings is invited by his old friend John Cavendish to stay with his family and is most surprised to find the matriarch - John's widowed step-mother Emily - has remarried to a man some 20 years younger than herself. It is safe to say that her new husband Alfred has not exactly endeared himself to the other members of the household.

When Emily is murdered by poisoning a couple of days later, Poirot is called in to investigate and through Hastings' eyes, we see his methods as the famous Belgian detective pieces together seemingly unconnected clues and sifts through various red herrings to finally reveal the murderer.

I really enjoyed this book, and loved that it kept me guessing right up until the moment that the killer was revealed at the end. Although I could never dream of putting together such a complex story (and let's not forget that Agatha Christie wrote a huge amount of mystery stories), I do think there were clues that this was an early novel, but if this is Christie at her most raw, then I can hardly wait to read her other books!

Poirot himself is an infuriatingly pompous and self-satisfied character who despite this is impossible not to like. The plot itself, with all of its twists and turns was still easy to follow and led to a satisfying and surprising conclusion.

Highly recommended to fans of the mystery genre. I have more Poirot stories on my to-be-read mountain and am looking forward to reading them. ( )
  Ruth72 | Nov 27, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 146 (next | show all)
Christie's spare, economical writing style and cleverness amaze me. I look forward to reading more Poirot books.
 

» Add other authors (115 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christie, Agathaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Curran, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fonticoli, DianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
George, ElizabethIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keilhau, WollertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, WillCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Suchet, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Symons, JulianForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodman, JeffNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The intense interest aroused in the public by what was known at the time as "The Styles Case" has now somewhat subsided.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0646418432, Paperback)

The heiress of Styles has been murdered, dying in agony from strychnine slipped into her coffee. And there are plenty who would gain from her death: the financially strapped stepson, the gold digging younger husband, and an embittered daughter-in-law.

Agatha Christie's eccentric and hugely popular detective, Hercule Poirot, was introduced to the world in this book, which launched her career as the most famous and best loved of all mystery writers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:05 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Recently, there had been some strange goings on at Styles St Mary. Evelyn, constant companion to old Mrs. Inglethorp, had stormed out of the house muttering something about 'a lot of sharks'. And with her, something indefinable had gone from the atmosphere. Her presence had spelt security; now the air seemed rife with suspicion and impending evil.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400102715, 1400109191

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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