Sunday, March 06, 2011
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Setting: Village of Styles St. Mary, Essex, England
This is the first book written by Agatha Christie (published 1920). Hastings is visiting an old friend, John Inglethorpe, at their home in Styles when his stepmother, who has recently remarried a man 20 years younger than herself, is found murdered, in her locked bedroom. While suspicion immediately falls on the new husband, Poirot believes otherwise.
I was surprised by several things: first, how Poirot is already so well-developed in this first book, as is Hastings (our narrator) and Insp. Japp. Second, although published 90 years ago, this book was written in a way that is still accessible to today’s readers. Let’s be truthful: some of the classics are not exactly pleasure reads. But Christie’s books still are. While critics might put her down for her simple characterization, these are still popular, well-loved books with enduring characters. And The Mysterious Affair at Styles was filled with enough red herrings and plot twists to leave us unsure of the killer. A good start to the challenge.