Title: The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Classics / Mystery
Date: 2004 (1920)
Started: 18th June 2017
Completed: 22nd June 2017
Summary: The famous case that launched the career of Hercule Poirot. When a wealthy heiress is murdered, Poirot steps out of retirement to find the killer. As the master detective makes his way through the list of suspects, he finds the solution in an elaborately planned scheme almost impossible to believe.
Agatha Christie was an English writer and one of the best-selling novelists in history. The Mysterious Affair at Styles was Christie’s first published novel and it introduced some of her best known characters, including Hercule Poirot. The edition I own includes a reconstructed version of Christie’s original ending which she amended at the request of her publisher.
The book was written in 1916, in the midst of World War 1, but wasn’t published until 1920 in the US and 1921 in the UK.
I didn’t know what to expect from Christie’s first novel and the introduction of Hercule Poirot after reading, and loving, And Then There Were None but I was impressed. I really enjoyed the plot, even if it did seem a little convoluted at times, because every new piece of information that Poirot uncovered changed my opinion of the case. I expected the trope of the older woman, recently married to a younger man, being murdered for her money to be slightly predictable but Christie was a master of leading the reader into false assumptions and I liked the overall plot. I loved the ending. There was a final twist that I just didn’t expect. I really thought that I had it all solved by the end but Christie produced one final shock. It was great.
I loved the characters and Christie manages to make almost every character suspicious and sympathetic at the same time. The descriptions of each character were vivid and distinct, each one comes to life as you’re reading. I liked the narrator a lot. Hastings was always coming to the wrong conclusion when Poirot gave him the clues and I thought that this was a very clever way of misleading the reader. He was a tad annoying at times but that’s because I felt a lot of frustration at his assumptions and his simpering over Mary Cavendish.
The only thing that I disliked about this particular edition (since I don’t know if any other editions are the same) was the awkward placement of missing chapter/original ending. I understand why it was included but the book instructs you to read the missing chapter before the new ending even though this chapter is at the back of the book. It just felt a bit oddly placed and I preferred the ending that Christie wrote at the request of her publisher because it felt more convincing than the original ending, even though the outcome of the case doesn’t change.
I did love this book but I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed And Then There Were None because it didn’t seem as polished. However, this was Christie’s first published novel so I can understand why it’s not as well thought out as And Then There Were None.
I would definitely recommend reading this novel as it’s an excellent mystery with very interesting characters. Christie’s writing has really captured me and I’m currently reading her second novel The Secret Adversary and really enjoying it.