5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Christie
Lieutenant Arthur Hastings is delighted at the opportunity to stay at Styles, the home of his old school friend John Cavendish. Things have changed since Hastings’s last visit. John is now married and his mother Emily has remarried Alfred Inglethorp, a man her sons despise. When Emily is poisoned, the sons believe that Inglethorp did it, but all is not what it...
Published 2 months ago by Debra Purdy Kong
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid Start
Christie's first published novel is clunky and over-worked, but it has two things going for it: it introduces Poriot and it clearly demonstrates Christie's talent for creating a complex plot with an unexpected resolution. In the years to come, Christie will write a great many better novels than STYLES, but it is a solid start to a brilliant career. Christie fans will...
Published on Dec 10 2001 by Gary F. Taylor
Most Helpful First | Newest First
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Christie,
This review is from: The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) (Kindle Edition)
Lieutenant Arthur Hastings is delighted at the opportunity to stay at Styles, the home of his old school friend John Cavendish. Things have changed since Hastings’s last visit. John is now married and his mother Emily has remarried Alfred Inglethorp, a man her sons despise. When Emily is poisoned, the sons believe that Inglethorp did it, but all is not what it seems, as secrets and hidden agendas abound at the country estate.
This was Agatha Christie’s first published Hercule Poirot novel and it’s a great story. As a master plotter, Christie once again had me guessing the killer’s identity to the end. The trademark plot twists, family dysfunction, and prejudice against the Belgian Poirot, are all there in this classic tale of betrayal and greed.
Agatha Christie was one of my writing heroes, and it’s a tribute to her skill that her books are still widely enjoyed today. They might hold even greater appeal for some readers, as there’s no hi-tech gadgetry used to help solve crimes. Some of the racist remarks made me cringe, but it was a reflection of the values and attitudes in the 1920’s. One of the many great things I like about Christie’s books is that they don’t need to be read consecutively. You can jump in any time, but if you must read a series from the beginning, then The Mysterious Affair at Styles is a terrific place to start. It’s classic Christie.
5.0 out of 5 stars What an intro to the quirky little Belgian,
I've always preferred Agatha Christie's early mysteries to those published late in her life. Somehow the most recent works feel cranked out rather than thought out.
"Styles" reeks with atmosphere, and the characters, stock though they may be, are quite good. The English country house, locked room murder tale has been overdone a bit (I eschew hyperbole), but it seems fresh-born here. Perhaps it is because this is the author's first-born mystery novel and she cared about what she was doing.
Other reviewers have described the actual plot, so I will not repeat that. Suffice it to say that the plot works, and the surprises are indeed unexpected. The logic and denouement are fair to the reader. The plot doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to..."work," for lack of a better verb. Mystery readers, often without knowing it, read this genre not for the ingenious plot but for the feel of place and for the characters. If feel and characters are your thing, you can't go wrong with this one.
5.0 out of 5 stars Hercule and Hastings begin their adventures,
This is the first Christie and the first Hercule Poirot novel. The action opens with Hastings describing his first adventure with Poirot. They become involved in solving a death in a locked room with the most obvious suspect being the husband. Many twists and turns later Poirot prevails and justice is served.
Hastings circumstances (invalid army officer alone in the world) are very like Dr. Watson. The relationship between Hastings and Poirot is similiar to Watson and Holmes in that Hastings is the bumbler, always leaping to the wrong conclusion while Poirot, like Holmes, drops little hints but by in large keeps his companion in the dark until the last minute.
Christie began her pattern here of going against established mystery conventions (most obvious suspect being innocent) while playing fair, (all clues are fairly laid out for the reader). The trademark Christie twists and turns are here as well.
This novel was originally published in 1920 and many of the details show its age. There are references to things that the modern reader will not be familiar and some comments are absolutely not politically correct but these do not detract from the story and in fact enforce the WWI English country house setting.
This is a 'must read' for any Christie fan, and highly recommended for any fan of 'cozy' mysteries.
5.0 out of 5 stars A CLASSIC DEBUT FROM A CLASSIC AUTHOR!!!,
This review is from: The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Paperback)
Dame Agatha's career as a writer began on a dare: a taunt by her older sister Madge to write a detective story in which no one would be able to guess the murderer's identity. "The Mysterious Affair At Styles" was written in 1915 (when she was only 24-years-old) and without a doubt Christie won the bet. It took five more years before it was accepted and released for publication. But no matter, this is the first in a long line of masterpieces from her pen, and the first to feature one of the greatest fictional detectives of all time: Hercule Poirot (pronounced Pwah-row). The story itself centers upon the Ingelthorpe family, and the various sinister undercurrents which culminates in the poisoning murder of its matriarch. Luckily M. Poirot is situated in a nearby village as a refugee from the war. He sifts through the mounting evidence and motives, hones in on the truth about the tragedy at Styles, and prevents an innocent man from being hanged (HARSH LANGUAGE: about 5 words, VIOLENCE: 1 scene, SEXUAL REFERENCES: none).
4.0 out of 5 stars Opens the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.,
Thirty-year old Mrs Agatha Christie turned a nice little profit with this, her first book, in 1920. It introduced Hercule Poirot. Wisely, she gave him many flamboyant, eccentric characteristics to leaven the depiction of detection work, but unwisely she created a character of advanced age that she subsequently needed to preserve for a further fifty years.
What became the regular Christie recipe for a whodunit is found here. Perhaps there is a tad more reliance on the dispensing of medicines, reflecting the author's occupation during World War One. A formula that she later discarded was the use of a narrator - Hastings - who presents one of the "cases" of his friend Poirot. 1920 and the publication of this book marked the opening of the "Golden Age of Detective Fiction". Expect that there are plenty of servants, plenty of drinks at bedtime, much making and re-making of wills, and characters - including Poirot - who walk everywhere.
This rates highly in the Christie collection for classic charm, readability and ingenuity. Few of her books from the 1920s excel it.
4.0 out of 5 stars Mysterious Affair requires a Scorecard,
Dame Agatha Christie introduces Hercule Poirot to the mystery novel loving public in this thriller set in WWI. Poirot and a group of fellow Belgians have resettled in an English village, after displacement from their homeland. Poirot has already retired from Belgian police work, speaking fondly of turn-of-the-century cases with friendly Scotland Yard detectives.
This is a standard issue murder case with the ancient mansion dweller as the victim. She is recently remarried and has also recently broken with a long-time friend and companion. Filling out the list of suspects are two step-sons who would benefit financially from her demise and several house guests, including a young pharmacist and a German spy. Poirot is called in the day of the murder and follows his standard practice. He sends cryptic messages to suspects to gauge their response, tracks suspects across the county, and even does primitive forensic studies. The book is written by a resident wounded veteran who was a long-time friend of both Poirot and the family at Styles.
There are two features here to recommend this book. The first is the mystery within the mystery structure in which the obvious suspect ultimately turns out to be the guilty one, albeit with an unexpected accomplice. The second is the deliberately researched poisoning mechanism employed. Dame Christie received a positive review in the 1920's from a leading British pharmacology journal for her efforts. For those who enjoy the complex, this book is wracked with it. It is nearly impossible to keep track of all the characters and their myriad interactions with Poirot and each other. Reading it the second time brought out a lot of foreshadowing and important facts, dropped into the text as minor details.
4.0 out of 5 stars Jenny Brooks-Agatha Cristie-TheMysterious Affair at Styles,
By A Customer
I have always enjoyed mystery books and surprisingly I liked this one as well. In the begining a man named Captain Hastings comes home from war. He meets an old friend named John Cavendish. John offers for Hastings to stay with him and Hastings delightedly accepts. Shortly after his arrival, John's mother, Emily Inglethorpe, is murdered by poison. Hastings hires a detective named Hercule Poirot. Throughout the book you wonder who the murderer is. There are a number of different suspects who all seem to have a pretty good motivation for killing her. There is John Cavendish, Mary Cavendish, Lawrence Cavendish, Alfred Inglethorpe, Evelyn Howard, Dorcas, and Cynthia Murdoch. I was in suspense through the entire book. The only thing that seemed to frustrate me about the mystery was the way Agatha Cristie would give you many clues leading you in the complete opposite direction everytime. Although, that is exactly what makes it a great mystery novel. I would highly recomend this novel. It will surely keep you on your toes!
5.0 out of 5 stars Agatha Christie's first and one of her best Poirot mystery!,
Captain Hastings is invalided home from World War I, and while on leave comes across an old friend, John Cavendish. When Hastings is offered to stay for the duration of his leave with the Cavendish family, he immediately takes up the offer. Arriving at Styles Court, instead of having a relaxing and pleasant stay, he gets involved in a murder! The victim is Emily Inglethorpe, mother of John Cavendish, murder by poison. It is then that Hastings brings in the famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, a refugee from his homeland. Will the detective be able to sort through the clues, use method and order, and exercise his 'little grey cells' to bring the killer to justice?
This is truly one of Agatha Christie's best Poirot novel! My father, my sister, and I are the proud owners of almost all of Agatha Christie's mysteries. All of her books are just so enjoyable to read that the best atmosphere I recommend you read them in is when you're either curled up on the couch or relaxing on your bed. Very hard to put down, I can almost guarantee you won't take as long as a week to finish one book!
The story and plot of "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" is ingenious, with lots of clues, happenings, twists and turns which never seem to come together or make sense! Agatha Christie has that writing style where she seems to be giving you everything, all of the hints and clues, but at the same keeping you in the dark, guessing and suspecting but never actually knowing. Then she gives you a finale which just leaves thinking, "Of course! Absolutely brilliant! That's how it happened!"
The character of Hercule Poirot has a personality all of his own. Yes, we have our Sherlock Holmes and other well known and well liked characters, but Hercule Poirot himself is a remarkable character. With his system of method and order, gathering all of the clues even the most significant ones, then putting them all together with the help of a little imagination, he is quite brilliant. Then there's Captain Hastings, so incredibly gullible that though at times you'd like to ask him whether he's keeping up with everything, you can't help but like him.
Then there's the array of other characters for this mystery who all seem to have a motive for murder: John Cavendish, Mary Cavendish, Alfred Inglethorpe, Evelyn Howard, Lawrence Cavendish, Cynthia Murdoch, Dorcas, and more. Everyone is under suspicion, who do you think is the murderer?
I recommend all of Hercule Poirot's mysteries. And besides Poirot, Agatha Christie has written stories on numerous other heroes and heroines, Miss Marple, Tommy and Tuppence, Parker Pine, and others. Other mystery writers whose work I enjoy reading are Lillian Jackson Braun and Dick Francis.
Also, don't miss out on any of the TV series and movies of Hercule Poirot. Starring as Poirot is David Suchet, perfect in his role! Plus, the movie, "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" is on DVD!
5.0 out of 5 stars 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.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Simplest Explanation is Always the Most Likely???,
The narrator, a military man recently wounded in battle and invalided home, runs into an old friend. This chance meeting leads to an unlikely collaboration with an eccentric detective. The crime is murder by poisoning, and in the end, the poisoner is brought to justice. No, this is not "A Study in Scarlet" by Arthur Conan Doyle, and the narrator and detective are not Watson and Holmes.
I had enjoyed several of Christie's later Poirot novels before reading "Styles", and I had never suspected that Agatha Christie patterned Hercule Poirot so much after Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. I've already noted the similarities in the plotting of Poirot's and Holmes' debut novels, but there is more. Holmes was tall, thin, bohemian, and utterly British. Poirot was short, fat, fastidious, and decidedly un-British. Holmes' examination of the crimescene in "Scarlet" was very similar to Poirot's in "Styles", but Holmes would never have flinched at examining the contents of the dispatch box. Holmes solved his mysteries by logical deduction, Poirot by the exercise of the "little grey cells". Both could get so involved in the work of detection that they cut quite comical figures. Both labored mightily to keep the detectives from Scotland Yard on the right track. Both men's confidence in their abilities bordered on arrogance, and both held their cards close to their vests before dramatically divulging the villian.
Holmes was always one for a pithy aphorism on detection. Poirot also: "Imagination is a good servant and a bad master. The simplest explanation is always the most likely." "Everything must be taken into account. If the fact will not fit the theory; let the theory go." "It is always wiser to suspect everybody until you can prove logically, and to your own satisfaction, that they are innocent."
There are similarities, but we cannot press them too far. Differences abound. Christie writes a much more Byzantine plot that Conan Doyle ever did, and in this case she arrives at the simplest explanation in the most complex, convoluted, contrived, and circuitous route imaginable. She also likes to play tricks on the reader, so beware! I occasionally wanted to cry foul during the course of the book, but her storytelling was so delightful, and the ending so satisfactory, that I had to applaud even as I felt somewhat betrayed.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (Paperback - Jan. 1 2005)
CDN$ 5.53 CDN$ 5.22
Usually ships in 1 to 2 months