Review: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

I have never read anything by Agatha Christie before. This has been an oversight on my part as I love crime novels and TV dramas and she’s obviously the queen of the genre. I’ve never actually seen an episode of Poirot either so starting with her first Poirot novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles seemed a good place to begin and introduce myself to a whole new world in crime writing and drama.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles is brilliantly anachronistic and enjoyable. It’s like reading something written in another era, will not, it’s not like that, it is that. Before I go on about what I enjoyed about so much here’s quick summary for the two people on the planet who don’t know the plot:

Captain Hastings, wounded at the Front, is recuperating at Styles Court in Essex. The house belongs to the Inglethorpe family, friends from his childhood. When Emily Inglethorpe is found poisoned, it is fortunate for Hastings that he bumps into his old friend Hercule Poirot, who can help to solve this horrible murder. When the evidence seems to point to one particular family member it is up to Poirot, through his methodical investigation, to prove the real murderer is someone else entirely.

Now of course I have seen Poirot on the telly, in as much as I know what he looks like but what I wasn’t expecting was how perfectly his on-screen creation mirrored how Christie had written him. Rarely do characters stand up to their written form but Poirot, visually at least, definitely does. Also, if I drew him myself, I’d probably make him look a little like the Monopoly man character so it’s probably a good thing I couldn’t draw.

I tore through the novel, desperate to know what the outcome would be. I loved all the idiosyncrasies Christie gives to Poirot to make him both humorous and compelling and I love how when you finally think you’ve worked it all out there’s another clever twist. There’s a reason crime fiction changes unalterably after Christie began writing and there’s a reason she retains such an important role in the crime fiction genre. She’s brilliant, she really is and though I may not want to pick up a Christie novel every day of the week I will be returning for more Poirot.

I know many of the other Christie novels follow the same structure as this one but this doesn’t stop me from wanting to read some more and am looking forward to starting another soon enough. I’ll end on a quote from The Mysterious Affair at Styles that sums up the wisdom Christie has impressed upon Poirot:

“Every murderer is probably somebody’s old friend.”

Genius!

Image 1 Credit

Image 2 Credit: IMDB