100 Years. 100 Books. #12 – 1920


The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

Those of you who know me, know very well that I am a diehard mystery fan, and as such, completely revere the great Agatha Christie. Several years ago, my father-in-law, who is an addicted garage sale junkie, showed up at my house with a box full of an entire set of Agatha Christie books. These weren’t your every day, average books – these were a Set, with black leather bindings, and gold leaf edges. And they had never been cracked.

Although it killed me to be the first to open these beautiful books, books are, after all, meant to be read. So I started re-reading all the Christie’s I’d devoured as a kid, and found several I’d never read. One of those was The Mysterious Affair at Styles, originally published in 1920. Even though I’d read it before, I felt obliged as part of this reading project to read and write about Christie’s first published novel and the first appearance of Hercule Poirot.

As the story opens, we meet Lieutenant Hastings, freshly returned from war and recuperating from a wound. He meets up with old friend John Cavendish, who invites Hastings to spend some time at his family seat, Styles, as he begins his rehabilitation. The family home, owned by John’s stepmother, becomes the scene of a murder involving the family matriarch, Emily Inglethorp. As the local police struggle with the crime, Hastings brings in an old acquaintance, Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective who became one of Christie’s most famous characters. Poirot and Hastings, along with Inspector Japp who also appears in later Poirot mysteries, engage the characters, discover and refute alibis and motives, and eventually, through the use of Poirot’s famous “little grey cells,” unmask the murderers.

Although Christie’s first published story, The Mysterious Affair at Styles was greeted with great enthusiasm by critics and readers alike when it was published in the United States in 1920. This marked the beginning of an illustrious career for Christie and the development of a genre that has become beloved by millions of readers worldwide. If you haven’t read The Mysterious Affair at Styles lately, or at all, find yourself a copy and settle in for a treat.

5 out of 5 catalog cards.

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