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Paperback The Mysterious Affair at Styles: A Detective Story (Modern Library Classics) Book

ISBN: 0812970101

ISBN13: 9780812970104

The Mysterious Affair at Styles: A Detective Story (Modern Library Classics)

(Part of the Hercule Poirot (#1) Series and POIROT (#1) Series)

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Book Overview

Who poisoned the wealthy Emily Inglethorpe, and how did the murderer penetrate and escape from her locked bedroom? Sus-pects abound in the quaint village of Styles St. Maryfrom the heiress's fawning new husband to her two stepsons, her volatile housekeeper, and a pretty nurse who works in a hospital dispensary. Making his unforgettable debut, the brilliant Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is on the case. "The key to the success of this style of detective...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Good beginning for Poirot

The Mysterious Affair at Styles was the first novel to introduce the great Hercule Poirot to the world. It also introduced Arthur Hastings, who appears in a number of other Poirot novels. The story begins with Hastings arriving at Styles Court to visit an old friend and his family. While he is at the estate, the Mistress of the house is killed. By a lucky coincidence, Poirot is in the nearby village and free to investigate the matter. The cast of suspects is largely drawn from the woman's family. Poirot interviews them all in his unique style and his little grey cells are put to the test as he attempts to untangle the mystery as many twists and turns ensue. Because this is the first Poirot novel, you might expect that it would be lacking compared to the later efforts. It is often the case that characters become better developed in later stories, for example. In this case, you will find a very typical Poirot novel, with no real evidence that Christie hadn't yet found his voice. His little witticisms and eccentricities are present, the upper class suspects, the relatively remote "bottle" location for the murder... all of these are typical elements in a Hercule Poirot novel and all are well executed. Once the story gets going, it moves along very well and the mystery certainly held my attention to the very end. The suspects were all pretty interesting and Poirot himself is pure gold. The only sour note for me was Hastings who is a bit too dense for my taste as well as being too pure of a Dr. Watson clone. Overall, The Mysterious Affair at Styles is well worth reading. If it isn't the best Poirot story, it is still far from the worst. While I might recommend a first time Christie reader to look elsewhere Death on the Nile: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries), or Evil Under the Sun: A Hercule Poirot Mystery, this is definitely worth trying for those who have read several Poirot novels and are looking for their latest fix of the little Belgian.

Into Mysteries? This is the place to start!

The novel Mysterious Affair at Styles: A Hercule Poirot Mystery by Agatha Christie is the perfect staring point for any fan of the mystery/thriller genre. There is a reason Ms. Christie is one of the most popular and prolific writers - with some 80+ titles to her credit - she is as enjoyable today as she was in 1920, when this classic was published. It is in this novel that we are first introduced to Hercule Poirot, an off little man who uses his little grey cells to solve mysteries. This is not Ms. Christies best work; however, it is a great foundation for truly enjoying a true fan favorite and mystery's true MVP!

Meet Hercule Poirot

In 1920 Agatha Christie introduced a quirky little Belgian detective to the world in this book she wrote on a dare from her sister. The time is World War I and Poirot is one of a small group of Belgian refugees who has come to live in a rural English village. With his egg-shaped head and his well-groomed moustache, Poirot enters and soon becomes one of fiction's best-loved detectives. Also in this novel, the reader is introduced to his cohort, Captain Arthur Hastings, recovering from a war injury at the upper-class household known as Styles Court. The mistress of the manor is Emily Inglethorpe, an elderly woman who has just married a much younger man. The family members occupying the house all become suspects when Mrs. Inglethorpe is murdered and it is up to Poirot's little grey cells to sift through all the red herrings and, in the final chapter, reveal all in true detective fashion. High on Poirot's list of suspects are: John Cavendish, the elder stepson; Mary Cavendish, his wife; Lawrence Cavendish, the younger stepson; Evelyn Howard, Mrs. Inglethorpe's companion; Cynthia Murdoch, her protegee; and Dr. Bauerstein, a mysterious stranger who lives in Essex. All have motive and opportunity but only Poirot can discover the truth. This first novel sets the tone for many Christies to follow. The wealthy family inhabiting a country house, the non-violent method of murder (poisoning) so favored by Mrs. Christie, and the light-hearted but often serious romance all became hallmarks of many of her later works. Have a cup of hot chocolate with Poirot and enjoy the adventure.

A Great Start

Agatha Christie's sister once boasted to her that she had never read a mystery in which she didn't know right away who the killer was. Agatha answered her by writing her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. It was quite a start to a brilliant literary career. The Mysterious Affair at Styles is well plotted and the characters are great to read about. Hercule Poirot and Hastings are really hilarious together. Poirot has to be the greatest crime-solver in literature. The entire cast of characters in this novel is interesting. This probably isn't Christie's best work (my favorite is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd) because her characteristic clean prose hadn't quite developed yet, but this is an extremely important work and is, like all of her books, entertaining. The literary critic Edmund Crispin summed Christie's work up best when he wrote: "You know, relaxing with a Christie, that for an hour or two you can forget the authentic nastiness of life and submerge yourself in a world where, no matter how many murders take place, you are essentially in nevver-never land."

Agatha's first case

For lovers of 'cozies', this first adventure of the famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, is mother's milk. It is such an entertaining, such a comfy novel; that even though Agatha Christie has created others much bettter, one can still appreciate her masterful techniques from the very begginning.The place is Styles Court, a great English country house in the village of Styles-St.-Mary, in Essex. The victim, Emily A. Inglethorp, the matriarch of the Cavendish family who has recently re-married. The suspects? Well, there are many, but her infamous new husband, Alfred Inglethorp, heads the list. The story starts with a re-telling acccount given by Captain Arthur Hastings, an old friend of Poirot, who ultimately brings him into the case to elucidate the murderer. As soon as Hastings arrives at Styles, he clearly senses that not all is well. His old friend John Cavendish tells him he is in financial trouble. John's wife, who conveys to Hastings "the impression of a wild untamed spirit in an exquisitely civilized body"; is entirely enigmatical. Emily's assistant, Evie, is a practical and matter-of-fact woman who "had a large sensible square body". Although we never really learn what such bodys look like, we can immediately picture them. Here, I find, lies one of the secrets of truly masterful character description. Even very early in the book, we come across the famous description of Poirot: "...hardly more than five feet, four inches...", with "the head exactly the shape of an egg", which "he always perched a little on one side. His moustache was very stiff and military." He was so incredibly neat that "a speck of dust would have caused him more pain than a bullet wound." The description of the characters is unique, and so is the great amount of interactivity among them. They are not a huge lot, but there's enough of them to give us a supply of good complications and 'red herrings': the sinister Mr. Inglethorp, the unimaginative John Cavendish and his perhaps too imaginative brother Lawrence, the servants, even the townsfolk. All the characters play their roles in due course, with none overshawing the others.This is a very complete novel and, as such, is also very graphic. There are at least five illustrations created by the author, among plans of the house and handwritten letters. The reader has - apparently - all the clues at hand. This was very common at the time, as well as the titling of each chapter. It all works to provide us with the whole picture. Poirot displays his wits to no end (with quite a bit of activity I must say that we don't find in later novels), and the story - typical of the rules of a good mystery for the 1920's - ends happily for everyone involved except, maybe for Hastings; who seems to be looking for a wife but has no luck in finding the right one. Ah! No problem, mon ami, perhaps in the next adventure?

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