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The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha…

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

by Agatha Christie

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Agatha Christie's novels are like crack. Intensely addictive and so much fun to read. Literally couldn't put it down. ( )
  ebethiepaige | Oct 17, 2015 |
More like 4.5

Agatha Christie's novels are like crack. Intensely addictive and so much fun to read. Literally couldn't put it down. ( )
  ebethiepaige | Oct 17, 2015 |
Invalided home from the Great War, Arthur Hastings is pleased to bump into his old friend, John Cavendish, and be invited to spend time at Cavendish's family estate, Styles. In a happy coincidence, Hastings long acquaintance, Hercule Poirot, is also in the neighbourhood as he has refugeed from Belgium. Poirot's proximity is particularly advantageous as shortly after Hastings's arrival, John Cavendish's stepmother dies suddenly and from apparent poisoning. But with the astute Belgian detective about, no murderer is safe.

It was fascinating to read Agatha Christie's first novel and see just how well her mystery crafting skills were already developed in this first foray. I found Hastings to be a bit pretentious but having a somewhat unlikeable narrator didn't diminish the joy of the book. It's interesting to see here that while there is some humour, it's not quite as pervasive as in some of Christie's other novels, which often leave me chorting. While I was not as misled as the narrator, I still was in the dark about whodunnit until the final reveal, always a bonus in a mystery novel. ( )
1 vote MickyFine | Sep 15, 2015 |
The first book Agatha Christie published was also her first Hercule Poirot mystery, my favorite of all her detectives. Captain Alfred Hastings narrates the story, and he also is a familiar figure in Christie mysteries, as a confidante and sidekick to Poirot. At the start of this novel, he is recently returned to England, invalided from battle and home to recuperate. He happens to run into John Cavendish, an old friend, and is invited to spend some time at the Cavendish country home, Styles Court.

When Hastings arrives, he quickly realizes that Styles Court in not a peaceful place. Emily Cavendish, the matriarch of the family and wealthy widow who owns the whole estate, has recently married a much younger man. The rest of the family greatly dislikes Alfred Inglethorp, the new husband. John and his brother, Lawrence, are Emily's stepsons. Nonetheless, she has the power to determine how the money will be distributed at her death, even if it was the will of John's father that John as his eldest son would inherit the estate upon his stepmother's death. Emily changes her will on a regular basis; currently, her will ensures that the money will go to the new husband, Alfred. Clearly, the tension is high in the family. To make matters worse, Emily's friend Evelyn Howard is also staying with the family, and she detests Alfred and regularly has altercations with him.

The mystery kicks in when the household is awakened in the middle of the night, hearing sounds of struggle in Emily Cavendish's room. They rush to her aid, but the door is locked. By the time they break in to the room, they find Emily alone but in dire straights. At first, she seems to be recuperating, but another attack seizes her while they are there. The doctor declares that she is dying. He explains it away as natural causes, but Hastings suspects poison, as does the doctor. Hastings asks John for his permission to contact an old friend of his, Hercule Poirot. While the family is divided as to whether a detective is even needed, John agrees, and Poirot soon arrives on the scene.

Working with his usual brilliant and meticulous care, Poirot begins uncovering the secrets of the household. The number of people staying at the house means that the suspect count is high. Christie clearly describes the clues, and Poirot's attention to them, but doesn't explain their meaning until the great reveal at the end. As this is Poirot's first appearance in print, the story makes a great point of the first impression he makes on people, of a rather foolish and foppish foreigner, in contrast with his incredible mind and deft skill at unraveling mysteries. The solution to this particular puzzler is delightful, twisting the reader's expectations around and around again, and will delight mystery lovers.

Truly, Agatha Christie is the Grand Dame of mysteries, and this book is a wonderful place to start. It introduces her most famous detective, it also introduces the familiar figure Captain Hastings, and it is a fantastic mystery that demonstrates Christie's gift for defying expectations. Her stories are generally self-contained, even if they do frequently use the same characters, so it actually is not necessary for someone new to Christie or Hercule Poirot to start with this book. However, it's not a bad idea, because this book is prime Christie, and immensely fun. I recommend people read all the Hercule Poirot mysteries, including The Mysterious Affair at Styles. ( )
1 vote nmhale | Jul 5, 2015 |
As always, Agatha Christies' murder mystery is as brilliantly conceived as they are brilliantly unraveled to the reader. ( )
  bbbart | May 30, 2015 |
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» 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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To my mother
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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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This is the BBC radio dramatisation. It should not be combined with the novel.
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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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9 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400102715, 1400109191

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