The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

20-01-2020.   4 stars.

It’s hard to believe this classic whodunit was first published one hundred years ago. The story is narrated in a fresh and direct style that feels more modern than the language and idioms of the time.

The whole story is full of life and energy as Hercule Poirot beavers away to uncover who poisoned old Mrs Inglethorpe in her bedroom and how. With a large cast of suspects, many of whom had good motives to want her out of the way, the story is filled with twists, red herrings and lies as Poirot and Hastings struggles to make sense of what they learn.

When Poirot gathers everyone together at the end to reveal the identity of the killer and how the poisoning was carried out, the level of detail and deduction is so immense, it takes two chapters to fully explain. Much of this is down to Poirot revealing little to Hastings, which of course keeps the reader guessing.

While I fully understood who killed Mrs Inglethorpe and how, there was so much detail involved, I struggled to fully connect and understand it all. It didn’t stop me marvelling at the author’s mastery of the murder mystery and complex plotting. She seemed to have covered every angle with great skill and confidence.

The main characters were believable and well-drawn, particularly Hercule Poirot. I wasn’t always sure who the female characters were, as there were quite a few of them. The story was well-paced and filled with intrigue, suspense and tension, lightened with humour and social commentary. The swipes at the press for descending on the family in search of a scandal show some things never change.

I’m looking forward to reading many more of Agatha Christie’s novels and mysteries.

 Description

Agatha Christie’s first ever murder mystery.

With impeccable timing Hercule Poirot, the renowned Belgian detective, makes his dramatic entrance on to the English crime stage.

Recently, there had been some strange goings on at Styles St Mary. Evelyn, constant companion to old Mrs Inglethorp, had stormed out of the house muttering something about ‘a lot of sharks’. And with her, something indefinable had gone from the atmosphere. Her presence had spelt security; now the air seemed rife with suspicion and impending evil.

A shattered coffee cup, a splash of candle grease, a bed of begonias… all Poirot required to display his now legendary powers of detection.