Book Review: The Mysterious Affair at Styles, by Agatha Christie

There are a few go-to authors for me whose works I can pick up at a moment’s notice and expect that it’ll be quality. Agatha Christie is one such author. I’ve read many of her books. This is the first book in the Hercule Poirot series.

Hastings arrives at Styles Manor, the home of his friend John Cavendish. His stepmother Emily Inglethorp has remarried after the death of his father. Alfred Inglethorp, Hastings is told, is not liked by many of the other members of the family. The story progresses and soon, Hastings runs into the little Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, who we find is settling in England, thanks to the kindness of Mrs. Inglethorp. On the fateful night, Hastings is woken up to be told that Mrs. Inglethorp is having some kind of fits, but the doors to her room are locked and can’t be accessed. They get to her in time, but a relapse of the fits turns out to be fatal. Though most of the family thinks that the death is natural, Dr. Bauerstein feels that there is foul play involved. Before the inquest, Hastings convinces John to let Poirot conduct his own private investigation. And the novel follows that.

This novel offers the first glance into the character of one of my favorite fictional detectives, Hercule Poirot. I don’t see much change from the other novels I’ve read in the series. He’s still the confident, old-school style detective, but the novel also adds a touch of loyalty to his character. His determination to right the wrong done to his benefactor is nice to see. What I didn’t like is that the story throws one red herring too many, and ends up confusing me. I think it happens one way, then the detective says it is not so and takes me on a different route. And then kind of brings me back on the old route. It breaks the flow for me slightly, though the curiosity to know what happens does keep me engaged. The explanation at the end as to why Poirot takes the route he takes makes sense. The motive for the crime, though expected, is justified. I could guess who the criminal was, but the accomplice was a twist I didn’t expect.

The novel is definitely a good crime fiction. But having read many other Poirot novels, this one doesn’t feel like one of Agatha Christie’s best works. It didn’t wow me as much as I expected it to. But like her other works, this is one I’d definitely read again.


A Score of 7 out of 10
Book Details
Title: The Mysterious Affair at Styles Series: Poirot #1
Author(s): Agatha Christie Genre: Crime Fiction
ISBN/ASIN: 9780007282265 Publisher: Harper Collins

No payment was taken for this review. The views expressed here are mine, and they remain uninfluenced and unbiased.


(© Vinay Leo R. @ A Bookworm’s Musing
2nd April 2017)

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