The Mysterious Affair at Styles

The Mysterious Affair at Styles was the first book written by Agatha Christie.  This book started the career of one of the most prolific authors in the world (let alone the mystery genre) and introduced the world to Hercule Poirot.  While this is the first Poirot novel, it’s the seventh one that I’ve read, and it’s interesting to look at this book in comparison to the later ones.

Book Stats

177 pages

Mystery

Stand Alone

Characters

This book introduces Hercule Poirot, and I think that I liked his behavior in this book more than in some of the later books.  He is every bit the brilliant detective in this book, and he has all of his quirks of hiding his thoughts from the reader (the book is told from Hastings POV) but Poirot seems more lighthearted in this book than he does in the later books.  All of the supporting characters in this book were also well written.

Setting

Styles, the home of the Inglethorps and Cavendishes in England.

Plot

The standard plot of every Poirot novel, there is a murder, and Poirot happens to be in the area, so he is called upon to investigate the case.  Ultimately he determines who the killer is and all the survivors live happily ever after.

Enjoyment

While all of the Poirot novels follow a strict formula, this one worked better than some of the others to me in large part because of Poirot’s personality.  I said in the characters section that he was more light-hearted in this book, and that made it a much more enjoyable read.  My copy of the book also contains an introduction written by Clea Simon that talks about Christie’s life and how she came to write mysteries.  I also think that this book does the best job of distracting you from who the real killer is of any of the Poirot novels that I’ve read.

Overall Grade

A fun read and a great introduction to the Hercule Poirot novels.

8/10

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10 Comments

  1. A great read. A personal favorite is And Then There Were None.

    Reply
    • I’ve read And Then There Were None a couple of times before, I’ll reread it next year for the Back to the Classics challenge that I’m doing.

      Reply
  2. hannahrose42

     /  December 13, 2011

    I’ve always been hesitant to read her books on Poirot, maybe I’ll try this one out and see how it goes.

    Reply
    • They’re very formulaic, so I wouldn’t recommend reading a bunch of them very quickly, but they are fun books, and this one worked out really well for me.

      Reply
  3. Thanks for the review. I haven’t read any of her works but I’m considering delving into them. This sounds like a great start!

    Reply
    • You can start anywhere with the Poirot books, the first one I read was Murder on the Orient Express (which is around the middle of the 30 some odd Poirot novels). This was the first one though, so there’s really no reason to not start with it if you’re new to the Poirot books.

      Reply
  4. I used to have an 8th grade crush on Poirot… 😛

    Reply
  5. That’s good to know Adam. I stumbled upon a bookseller on the street the other day and he had a ton of her books but I didn’t know where to start so I didn’t buy any. That was a mistake!

    Reply
  6. Definitely one of the classic Poirot tales, though I didn’t know it was Christie’s first. Thanks for the review.

    Reply
  7. Just read this one this year and enjoyed it. I’m trying to read them all in order.

    Reply

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