Today, we will be reviewing Agatha Christie’s first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles. It introduced the world to Hercule Poirot and Christie’s wonderful mystery novels. Keep reading for a short summary and why you should give this book a read!
The Mysterious Affair at Styles Summary
In the Styles household, Emily Inglethorp, the elderly owner of the house is found dead in the morning hours. She has been poisoned with strychnine and the killer is assumed to be one of the residents of the Styles house. Arthur Hastings was invited as a guest and is retelling the tale of the murder to the reader.
The residents of the Styles house include Alfred Inglethorp, a younger man she recently married; her stepsons (from her first husband’s previous marriage) John and Lawrence Cavendish; John’s wife Mary Cavendish; Cynthia Murdoch, the daughter of a deceased friend of the family; and Evelyn Howard, Emily’s companion.
Hastings is friends with Hercule Poirot and invites him into the Styles house and tells him the details of the murder. Poirot gathers clues and tries to figure out the killer and the method the killing. But some clues confuse Poirot and the law intervenes and tries to persecute the alleged killer. Is this the actual killer or did the police arrest the wrong person? Only Poirot can clear the confusion once he solves it.
Book and Author History
Christie first began working on this novel in 1916 and used her own experiences to shape the novel. Poirot was inspired by her experience working as a nurse, attending to Belgian soldiers in the first World War. The ending of the novel was slightly altered to please her publisher The Bodley Head. Christie later went on to say that her contract with the publisher was exploitive.
Many people know Christie as the queen of mystery and this is the novel that started the journey. The book did well and received favorable reviews. She ended up writing over 60 novels and 14 short stories in her long career. Christie has been listed as the best-selling mystery author of all time by Guinness World Records with over two billion copies sold.
Her writing career started off slow after getting rejected six consecutive times. That is until The Bodley Head signed a deal with her after sitting on the submission for months. It takes one moment to change your life and Christie made the most out of her chance.
Christie enlisted in both World Wars and served in hospital dispensaries where she learned about poisons which have been major themes in her books. Her second marriage to archaeologist Max Mallowan in 1930 led to her adding new adventures in her future novels.
Agatha Christie is the most translated individual author according to UNESCO. Her novel And Then There Were None is one of the highest selling novels of all time with over a 100 million copies sold. Christie’s stage play The Mousetrap holds the record for the longest initial run for a play.
For once, I thought I figured out the killer and was feeling proud. But apparently Christie must have heard me as everything I predicted was incorrect. While this is her first novel, the plot is intricate and will take you on a ride. While reading, I would never have guessed that it was her first novel! Happy reading!
3 thoughts on “The Mysterious Affair at Styles: Book Review”
I was never a Poirot fan, so any story with another detective was a welcome change. Hastings seemed rather background’ish and narrator-like, but it worked for me.