Friday, February 15, 2013

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)

The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Agatha Christie. 1920/2006. Black Dog & Leventhal. 224 pages.

The intense interest aroused in the public by what was known at the time as "The Styles Case" has now somewhat subsided. Nevertheless, in view of the worldwide notoriety which attended it, I have been asked, both by my friend Poirot and the family themselves, to write an account of the whole story. This, we trust, will effectually silence the sensational rumours which still persist.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles was one of my first mysteries to read, my first Agatha Christie. It is also among my first Christie mysteries to reread. This was Christie's first novel, and it stars Hercule Poirot.

Captain Hastings, our narrator, has been invited to the home of an old friend. While he's visiting this family, something horrible happens: a murder. It's not absolutely unexpected, he'd been informed by one of the occupants of the house that the family was a mess and that Mrs. Inglethorp is in danger. But it is a surprise. He decides that it would be wise if he called Hercule Poirot, a Belgian detective he'd met previously. The two are definitely friendly, but, they aren't as close as they are in later books. In this first novel, Hastings is very amateurish and completely unused to Poirot's tricks and methods. Hastings instincts and observations seem to be all wrong. His insights amusing Poirot perhaps. Though it is one of Hastings comments that help Poirot find his missing link...

The presentation and arrangement of the clues is confusing, purposefully confusing I believe since the case is seen entirely through Hastings view point. Since Hastings was having a horrible time solving the case and focusing in on what was important and how the suspects fit into it...readers can at times struggle along with him. Hastings always has an idea, a guess, and he's always seeking confirmation from his hero, Poirot. Since Poirot is reluctant to share his own opinions on the case with Hastings, this can be frustrating to him. Why won't Poirot tell him if he's right or close to being right?

I would recommend this one.

Read The Mysterious Affair at Styles
  • If you enjoy vintage mysteries, cozy mysteries, British mysteries
  • If you enjoy Agatha Christie
  • If you enjoy Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I just read this one and really enjoyed it. When I started it I didn't realize it was the first Poirot mystery!

Almae said...

I read some Agatha Christie over the summer and really liked it. I will have to give this one a go! Great review.