The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot, #1)
Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie’s debut novel was also the first to feature Hercule Poirot, her famously eccentric Belgian detective.

A refugee of the Great War, Poirot has settled in England near Styles Court, the country estate of his wealthy benefactor, the elderly Emily Inglethorp. When Emily is poisoned and the authorities are baffled, Poirot puts his prodigious sleuthing skills to work. Suspects are plentiful, including the victim’s much younger husband, her resentful stepsons, her longtime hired companion, a young family friend working as a nurse, and a London specialist on poisons who just happens to be visiting the nearby village.

All of them have secrets they are desperate to keep, but none can outwit Poirot as he navigates the ingenious red herrings and plot twists that contribute to Agatha Christie’s well-deserved reputation as the queen of mystery.

Librarian’s note: the first fifteen novels in the Hercule Poirot series are 1) The Mysterious Affair at Styles, 1920; 2) The Murder on the Links, 1923; 3) The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, 1926; 4) The Big Four, 1927; 5) The Mystery of the Blue Train, 1928; 6) Peril at End House, 1932; 7) Lord Edgware Dies, 1933; 8) Murder on the Orient Express, 1934; 9) Three Act Tragedy, 1935; 10) Death in the Clouds, 1935; 11) The A.B.C. Murders, 1936; 12) Murder in Mesopotamia, 1936; 13) Cards on the Table, 1936; 14) Dumb Witness, 1937; and 15) Death on the Nile, 1937. Poirot also appears, in this period, in a play, Black Coffee, 1930, and two collections of short stories, Poirot Investigates, 1924, and Murder in the Mews, 1937. Each novel and short story has its own entry on Goodreads.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot, #1) book cover

It’s almost hard to credit this as the beginning of what, to me, was a very enjoyable television series. David Suchet playing Poirot onscreen was a staple of my childhood, the series is, after all, almost as old as I am. Last year’s Curtain, broadcast on a Wednesday last November, brought back many memories of sitting down with my grandfather to watch a performance.
Early Poirot is seemingly more clue-based, more your typical detective than his future depictions seem to indicate. Latterly he seemed very much to look for reasons, whereas for the majority of the novel he’s seeking clues. I did enjoy poor old Hastings bewilderment throughout, and will I am sure read the rest of these over the years.

Published by Sean Randall

I am an avid reader, technologist and disability advocate living in the middle of England with my wife, daughter and pets.

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