After a lot of experimental reading this year, some proving to be worthwhile and others not so much, I finally returned to my comfort zone. What other book to curl up with on a Friday night for binge reading than a Poirot mystery! After my disappointment with “Murder on the Orient Express”, I was on the lookout for a classic Agatha Christie novel. Then came “The Mysterious Affair at Styles” with great recommendations from different sources. Being Poirot’s first case definitely added to the charm of the book.
Book Synopsis from www.agathachristie.com :
Agatha Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was the result of a dare from her sister Madge who challenged her to write a story. The story begins when Hastings is sent back to England from the First World War due to an injury and is invited to spend his sick leave at the beautiful Styles Court by his old friend John Cavendish. Here, Hastings meets John’s step-mother, Mrs Inglethorpe, and her new husband, Alfred. Despite the tranquil surroundings Hastings begins to realise that all is not right. When Mrs Inglethorpe is found poisoned, suspicion falls on the family, and another old friend, Hercule Poirot, is invited to investigate.
The novel commences with the arrival of Hastings at Styles. Christie do not waste words and immediately starts playing with our minds, casting some characters on a suspicious light and making others appealing to the readers. Although Poirot is introduced even before the crime, he takes centre stage only after the crime has been committed. Christie lays an intricate web of deceit and adultery with plenty of well-placed red herrings to confound the reader. Although Poirot systematically sprinkles few critical information in his usual enigmatic style, this will only take the readers on a wild goose chase in their minds. My strong suspicion on some of the characters being the culprits remained just a guess and was nowhere near the actual perpetrators.
This book, like any good Agatha Christie book, is everything it promises to be. It has all the magical touches of Agatha Christie – a classic post war British setting, a country house which is a menagerie of suspicious characters, a murder, a scandal and what not! This is a must read for all Agatha Christie fans and lovers of quality mystery.