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.
Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote 66 crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and six novels under a pseudonym in Romance. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and a billion in translation. According to Index Translationum, she remains the most-translated individual author, having been translated into at least 103 languages. She is the creator of two of the most enduring figures in crime literature-Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple-and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.
Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in Torquay, Devon, England, U.K., as the youngest of three. The Millers had two other children: Margaret Frary Miller (1879–1950), called Madge, who was eleven years Agatha's senior, and Louis Montant Miller (1880–1929), called Monty, ten years older than Agatha.
Before marrying and starting a family in London, she had served in a Devon hospital during the First World War, tending to troops coming back from the trenches. During the First World War, she worked at a hospital as a nurse; later working at a hospital pharmacy, a job that influenced her work, as many of the murders in her books are carried out with poison. During the Second World War, she worked as a pharmacy assistant at University College Hospital, London, acquiring a good knowledge of poisons which feature in many of her novels.
Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, came out in 1920. During her first marriage, Agatha published six novels, a collection of short stories, and a number of short stories in magazines.
In late 1926, Agatha's husband, Archie, revealed that he was in love with another woman, Nancy Neele, and wanted a divorce. On 8 December 1926 the couple quarreled, and Archie Christie left their house, Styles, in Sunningdale, Berkshire, to spend the weekend with his mistress at Godalming, Surrey. That same evening Agatha disappeared from her home, leaving behind a letter for her secretary saying that she was going to Yorkshire. Her disappearance caused an outcry from the public, many of whom were admirers of her novels. Despite a massive manhunt, she was not found for eleven days.
In 1930, Christie married archaeologist Max Mallowan (Sir Max from 1968) after joining him in an archaeological dig. Their marriage was especially happy in the early years and remained so until Christie's death in 1976.
Christie frequently used familiar settings for her stories. Christie's travels with Mallowan contributed background to several of her novels set in the Middle East. Other novels (such as And Then There Were None) were set in and around Torquay, where she was born. Christie's 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express was written in the Hotel Pera Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, the southern terminus of the railway. The hotel maintains Christie's room as a memorial to the author. The Greenway Estate in Devon, acquired by the couple as a summer residence in 1938, is now in the care of the National Trust.
Christie often stayed at Abney Hall in Cheshire, which was owned by her brother-in-law, James Watts. She based at least two of her stories on the hall: the short story The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, and the novel After the Funeral. Abney Hall became Agatha's greatest inspiration for country-house life, with all the servants and grandeur which have been woven into her plots.
To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours. The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club.
"Dear me, Poirot," I said with a sigh, "I think you have explained everything! And how wonderful of you to wait until page 230 to finally shed light on all your absurd behavior throughout the book, and to justify and the red herrings and narrative padding! But of course, it could only be so in the classic style of a fiendish murder mystery! Why, in fact, though this is but the first case we have solved together, I have no doubt we could do the exact same thing as many as 86 more times, depending on if you count the smaller cases!"
"Quite so, mon ami," Poirot chuckled. "You make such a reliably dim-witted Watson!"
I looked at Poirot in silent amazement. The colossal cheek of the little man! Then we drank some tea and he kissed me passionately, on the mouth.
You are Captain Arthur Hastings, and you are slowly falling in love with a Belgian. The feelings are embarrassing at first; you find the Belgian himself to be quite an embarrassment. But there is just something about him. Could it be his suave, continental sense of humor... his keen sense of justice... his shapely, rubenesque figure? Or is it simply his hypnotic mustache, perhaps? The passion develops in fits and starts. You don’t want to love him, you really don’t. You don’t want to follow him around, adventure after adventure. You don’t want to be his little bitch, always at his beck and call, sniping and moaning at him but loving it nonetheless. You don’t like mysteries but you are about to fall victim to the greatest mystery of them all: the mystery of the human heart! Try as you may, the Belgian has hold of you, heart and soul. You will follow him forever.
If you've read my reviews before, you know I love mystery fiction, and in particular, the classics. Agatha Christie died in 1976, and I was born the following year. Two things come to mind... (1) It's a good thing I wasn't alive when she died because I would have been so miserable to be around. (2) Since I was born just about a year later, I'm wondering if maybe a small part of her lives on... as I love her genius and her works of literature... and I can re-read her books over and over again without ever getting bored.
There are tons of reviews of all her major works, and I don't need to be repetitive in my review. What I'd really try to get across is why you need to read ANY of her works, and then why I'd suggest this one:
1. This was one of her first books, and I believe the first published one, in 1920, which means she was probably writing it exactly 100 years ago. And though some of the language is a little different, and it takes place with a different cultural atmosphere, the crux of the story -- its plot, is appropriate at any point in time. People don't love Christie for her beautiful language or her great ideas... yeah, she had some of those... but it's her plots and characters that stand out. And those transcend time.
2. Who else can create such a puzzle that you are constantly trying to guess what's going on? True, tons of writers today, but not 100 years ago. And even with modern writers, it's often in a suspense and thriller type of novel, where it's all about the chase. Christie was all about the calm approach to solving a murder. She didn't try to end each chapter with a big WOW and heart-wrenching scare tactic. It's simple evolution of a timeline, collections of clues, conversations with people... and then you start to see the puzzle come together. But at the last minute, you get the unexpected twist.
3. With this first book, you meet Hercule Poirot, one of her two popular detectives. Poirot is annoying. He's painful. He will make you angry while you are laughing. And that's the cool part. Columbo is the best comparison I can come up with. And I'm certain Columbo was based on large part by Christie's Poirot.
So why this book???????
It's the first in the series. It's a prime example of why her stories work. It's the ultimate tale - a family with secrets. It takes place in the UK... the best place to visit and perhaps live. I don't live there, only visited it. :}
But it's really the slow build-up of the clues that will have your mind working overtime. So... if you need a Christie stand-alone book, go to "And Then There Were None." If you like female investigators, choose a Miss Marple. If you like a Belgian male detective, flip a coin and pick between Murder on the Orient Express or The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Both will be a great read. But if you need to start at the beginning, go with this one to see what an author's first book looks like. Because if I didn't have my Christie... I'd be like...
About Me For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. [polldaddy poll=9729544] [polldaddy poll=9719251]
The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot #1), Agatha Christie
Original publication year 1920.
Characters: Hercule Poirot, Inspector Japp, Arthur Hastings, John Cavendish, Emily Inglethorp, Alfred Inglethorp, Cynthia Murdoch, Mary Cavendish, Evie Howard, Lawrence Cavendish.
Abstract: The famous case that launched the career of Hercule Poirot. When a wealthy heiress is murdered, Poirot steps out of retirement to find the killer. As the master detective makes his way through the list of suspects, he finds the solution in an elaborately planned scheme almost impossible to believe.
عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «یک جنایت مرموز»؛ «طلوع در استایلز: اسرار خانه ییلاقی»؛ «قتل در عمارت استایلز»؛ «اولین پرونده های پوارو»؛ «ماجرای اسرارآمیز در استایلز»؛ نویسنده: آگاتا کریستی؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 1998 میلادی و سال 2004میلادی
عنوان یک جنایت مرموز، نویسنده: آگاتا کریستی؛ مترجم قیطاس مردانیراد، نشر تهران، پیام عدالت، چاپ نخست 1372، در 305ص، چاپ دوم در سال1377خورشیدی؛ شابک 9645977606؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده 20م
عنوان دو: «طلوع در استایلز: اسرار خانه ییلاقی»، نویسنده: آگاتا کریستی؛ مترجم بهرام افراسیابی، نشر تهران، مهرفام، 1389، در 333ص، شابک9789649915135؛
عنوان سه: قتل در عمارت استایلز، نویسنده: آگاتا کریستی؛ مترجم محی الدین غفرانی، نشر تهران، ساحل، چاپ نخست 1372، چاپ دوم 1373، در248ص، شابک ندارد
عنوان چهار: اولین پرونده های پوارو، نویسنده: آگاتا کریستی؛ مترجم محمدرضا عمادی، نشر تهران، هرم، چاپ نخست 1383، چاپ دوم 1386، در248ص، شابک ندارد
عنوان پنج: ماجرای اسرارآمیز در استایلز، نویسنده: آگاتا کریستی؛ مترجم رویا سعیدی، نشر تهران، هرمس، چاپ نخست 1382، چاپ دوم 1386، در48ص، چاپ سوم 1390، در 288صفحه، شابک 9643631699؛
چکیده: بانوی املاک «استایلز»، «کورت» را در رختخواب خود مرده یافت؛ او به قتل رسیده بود؛ اعضای خانواده و نزدیکترین دوستان او، مظنون به قتل بودند؛ «جان کاوندیش»، پسر بزرگ او، که بیشترین منافع را میبرد؛ «آلفرد اینگلتورپ» شوهر او، که به هنگام روی دادن جنایت در محل نبود؛ «مری»، همسر «جان»، درگیر با دکتر «باور اشتاین»، نخستین کسی که آن را قتل نامید؛ «لارنس کاوندیش» پسر کوچکتر قربانی، که فنجان قهوه جنایت را شست؛ «اِوِلین هاوارد» که ...؛ «سینتیا مردوک»، تحت سرپرستی مقتول، تنها مظنونی که به سم دسترسی داشت؛ هر یک میتوانستند قاتل باشند
کاپیتان «آرتور هستینگز» که هنوز از جراحتی که در جنگ دیده بهبود نیافته، و در حال گذراندن مرخصی استعلاجی است، از یکی از دوستانش به نام «جان کاوندیش»، نامه ای دریافت میکند، که او را دعوت میکند تا دوره ی نقاهت خود را در «استایلز کورت» بگذراند؛ «هستینگز» پس از ورود به «استایلز» با بقیه ی اعضای خانواده «کاوندیش» آشنا میشود؛ از جمله، «امیلی» که خانم خانه و نامادری «جان» و «لارنس کاوندیش» است، و «جان» و «لارنس» برای تامین معاش کاملا وابسته به او هستند؛ «امیلی» درگیر بعضی فعالیتهای بشردوستانه است، و یکی از این فعالیتها این است که به پناهندگان جنگی، و از جمله گروهی از «بلژیکی»ها یاری میکند؛ «هستینگز» یکی از این پناهندگان را از پیش میشناسد؛ او، کارآگاه نامدار «هرکول پوآرو» است ...؛ «ماجرای اسرارآمیز در استایلز» اثری به یادماندنی است، نخستین کتابی است، که «کریستی» نوشته، و نخستین بار است که «پوآرو»، کارآگاه «بلژیکی» به خوانشگران معرفی میشود
کریستی؛ نگارش این کتاب را در 1916میلادی در بحبوحه ی جنگ جهانی نخست، آغاز کردند؛ ایشان در آن سالها، در داروخانه ای در یک بیمارستان، کار، و در اوقات فراغت روی کتابش کار و کوشش میکردند، به پرونده ی پیچیده و کارآگاه عجیب و غریب خویش زندگی ببخشند؛ «کریستی» پس از پایان نگارش این کتاب، آن را برای شش ناشر گوناگون ارسال کردند، و همگی آنها کتاب را رد کردند؛ تا اینکه بالاخره انتشارات «بادلی» پذیرفت، تا کتاب را با شرایطی نه چندان منصفانه منتشر کند؛ از انتشار کتاب تنها 25پوند عاید روانشاد «کریستی» شد
یادداشت: کتاب تحت پنج عنوان گوناگون در «ایران» بارها منتشر شده است؛
عنوان نخست: «جنایت مرموز»، با ترجمه ی «قیطاس مردانیراد، نشر پیام عدالت»؛ عنوان دوم: «طلوع در استایلز: اسرار خانه ییلاقی، با ترجمه ی بهرام افراسیابی، انتشارات مراد»؛ عنوان سوم: «قتل در عمارت استایلز، با ترجمه محی الدین غفرانی، توسط انتشارات ساحل»؛ عنوان چهارم: «ماجرای اسرارآمیز در استایلز، با ترجمه رویا سعیدی»؛ و عنوان پنجم: «اولین پرونده های پوارو، با ترجمه ی محمدرضا عمادی، در نشر هرم»؛
نقل نمونه از متن کتاب: «فکر نکنید در برنامه ریزی و انجام کارهای تبهکارانه استادید، همیشه هستند کسانی که نقشه شوم و پلیدتان را نقش بر آب میکنند»؛ پایان نقل از متن
تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 15/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 22/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Agatha Christie begleitet mich eigentlich schon seit meiner Kindheit. Ich habe schon recht früh begonnen, ihre Bücher zu lesen und habe die meisten immer sehr gemocht. Auch dieses Buch habe ich vor Jahren bereits gelesen, aber es war mal wieder Zeit für eine Wiederholung. Ich mag es immer noch sehr! :) Es ist ein klassischer, sehr unterhaltsamer Detektivroman. Hercule Poirot ist einfach unschlagbar.
February has been a tough month for me this time around. I can't pinpoint it but there have been too many gray days even without the snow on the ground. Spring is mercifully around the corner and with it sun and happier reading times ahead. I tend to read mysteries as palette cleansers in between denser reads but at count I have read four mysteries this month and perhaps I can squeeze in another. In fact, February should be mystery month. On that note, what better way to spend the lingering winter days with the Queen of Crime, Dame Agatha Christie herself. The Mysterious Affair at Styles is her first case that introduced Hercule Poirot to the world, and, as usual, Dame Christie did not disappoint.
Colonel Hastings has been called to Styles Arms at the request of his friend John Cavendish. It is the war years and Hastings is appreciative to take leave of the army. At Styles, Hastings encounters arguments between the various inhabitants of the manor. There is fighting between Mr and Mrs Alfred and Emily Inglethorpe, between Mr Inglethorpe and his cousin Evelyn Howard, between John and Mary Cavendish, and between John and his brother Lawrence. Either the Great War has made the extended Inglethorpe-Cavendish clan tense, or things are not as rosy on the inside of the manor as they appear on the outside.
It is in this tense environment that within two nights of Hastings arrival that Mrs Emily Inglethorpe is found dying in her bed. A doctor is summoned and rules Mrs Inglethorpe's death to be murder by strychnine poisoning. Hastings is asked to lead the investigative team but with his narrow mind, he is clueless as to who would want to murder and elderly lady. By chance, a group of Belgians is staying at a cottage close to Styles Arms, and among them is Hastings old friend, the one and only Hercule Poirot. Already highly regarded as a premier detective in his home country, Poirot is summoned by Hastings to assist him in solving this dreadful case.
Christie first published The Mysterious Affair at Styles in 1921 and the book has stood the test of time. Poirot mentions that Hastings should use his gray cells, and he seems a step ahead of both Hastings and Scotland Yard Inspector Japp. Inspector Japp almost immediately accuses John Cavendish of murdering his mother and places her on trial, yet Poirot by thoroughly examining each and every clue tells his counterparts to have patience because perhaps a key piece is missing and perhaps the wrong person has been implicated. Yes, John Cavendish can stand to gain in his mother's will from her death but does it make him a murderer. Only Poirot seems to attest to the truth and leads Hastings, the inhabitants of Styles Arms, and Christie's readers on a fact finding mission to unravel the case.
As Styles gained in popularity, Christie found that she had a formula that worked with cases starring her famous Belgian detective. As with many of Christie's future cases featuring Poirot, he has all the principal players gather as he explains to them the crime, motive, and guilty party in an easy to follow step by step manner. And as with many cases, Poirot introduces a new piece of evidence toward the end that plays a significant role in the case. Christie's cases are always fun to read even if it is tricky to guess whodunit based on the lack of this key clue. Yet I keep reading her cases and other mysteries to sharpen my mind and keep my little gray cells in order. It is a good thing that February does not last too much longer or I would probably be reading a case featuring the famous Belgian detective before the calendar turns to spring.
To celebrate completing my 1000th book of the decade, I chose Agatha Christie’s first Hercule Poirot mystery novel for this reading slot. I am especially proud of this milestone because earlier in the decade when I was working full-time there was one month (September 2014) where I only read one book and two months where I only read two books (May and June 2012)!
Agatha Christie wrote this novel in 1916, and it was first published in the United States by John Lane for $2.00 per copy in October 1920. It was first published in the United Kingdom by The Bodley Head in January 1921 and could be purchased for seven shillings and sixpence. Another historically significant fact is that when Penguin Books first began publishing in 1935, this novel was one of the first 10 books they published.
Agatha Christie did not start out as a Master of the mystery genre, but she persisted and went on to solve some difficult literary problems with the genre via her books – literary problems that had even stumped the illustrious Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. (Specifically, the problem with introducing too many clues that end up canceling each other out).
And, she knows her Shakespeare! The line from 1602’s Hamlet is, “Though this be madness yet there is method in it.” In this novel, one of the residents of the Styles estate asks in reference to Hercule Poirot, ”Is he quite mad, Mr. Hastings?” and Hastings replies, ”I honestly don’t know. Sometimes, I feel sure he is as mad as a hatter; and then, just as he is at his maddest, I find there is method in his madness.”
For a debut novel, this one is excellent. It is well thought through, the writing is clear and the pace is brisk and entertaining. The characters are all interesting, too. At first I thought I might have to write them all down, but instead I just highlighted their first reference in case I needed to look back. I never had to – before the story is even a couple of chapters in, I knew exactly who all the characters were and what their relationships were to each other.
I really had to pay attention while reading this novel. There are, indeed, a plethora of clues. Although Hercule Poirot’s busy mind is sifting them out as they appear, sorting them into mental cubbyholes, and weighing and measuring them, it is true that many of them cancel each other out. Poirot and Hastings (the narrator) are working together, yet Poirot doesn’t disclose all of his deductions to his friend; he tries to prod him into discovering his own deductions. So we have Hastings coming to certain conclusions and Poirot coming to other conclusions. There’s an entire ship load of red herrings in this story!
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and although I did guess the actual culprit at least once, I got there via a different route altogether – and it didn’t stop me from suspecting all the other people in the household of murder either. Agatha Christie, if you did in fact write this novel as a challenge to present a murder mystery that leaves one guessing until Hercule Poirot points his finger, you succeeded with me!
One last note: while Agatha Christie and her contemporaries helped to open doors for many of today’s mystery writers (especially women), there were also earlier female mystery writers who opened those doors for Ms Christie and her colleagues. I hope to take this journey with Agatha Christie from novice to master and learn more about how she accomplished that feat.
Poirot is introduced in this book, so how can you not love it?!
Actually, pretty easily. This simply isn't Agatha Christie's best work. And that's mainly due to this being her first book. Yeah, so not only was she still figuring out who Poirot was, she was still figuring out this whole mystery writing gig. I mean, for her first stab at it, she did a phenomenal job. But if you go into this thing thinking you're going to get her best story, you'll more than likely be disappointed. Sorry, Hercule.
For those of you who are already fans, I think you'll find this a fun book because, while he's not entirely fleshed out yet, all the trademarks of Poirot are there. Hastings is still a bit of a well-intentioned dumbass, and Japp shows up and gives the weird little Belgian free reign to solve the case under the table. Plus the whodunnit was appropriately twisty and turny.
My advice? If you're new to Poirot - don't start here. Yeah, I know that it's #1 but you don't need to read these books in order. Think of The Mysterious Affair at Styles as a prequel that you can go back and read after you get hooked on Hercule.
Ok. Let's get down to business. This is an old fashioned British mystery novel. So much information! Trying to keep it all straight in my head was extremely difficult. My brain was all over the place but that's what makes a good mystery, in my opinion.
This is the first book starring the world famous Hercule Poirot and his friend Hastings. Poirot is an eccentric detective from Belgium who fled to England during WWI. Hastings is a little on the dramatic side, always jumps to the wrong conclusions, and never catches on to the hints that Poirot throws his way. It definitely helps inject some humor into what would normally be very dour subject matter.
The first part of this book (other than the murder of course) is a little slow due to character building, so for about the first 100 pages. After that, Scotland Yard gets involved and that's when things start to get a bit more interesting. The investigation heats up. There are six suspects. People start being cleared or becoming suspicious. At this point it could be anyone. Everyone in this book seems a little shady for one reason or another. The servants seem to be the only ones you don't suspect. Also this book has a lot of dialogue. You have the suspects talking to each other, Poirot interviewing people for information, and Poirot explaining clues, and of course when he reveals everything at the end of the book.
I might be a little biased because I love David Suchet as Poirot in the TV show but I really enjoyed this book. It kept me guessing and it was intricate and interesting enough to keep my attention. If you enjoy an old fashioned mystery but have never read Agatha Christie before, this one is a good place to start :)
This is my first introduction to Agatha Christie. Having never read her before, I was interested in starting her with the Poirot series which includes her famous detective, Hercule Poirot.
The story is a cleverly written murder mystery with interesting twists and turns, all the time not giving away the real culprit. I had my hunch of the criminal and motive, and though they prove correct at the end, time to time doubt entered my mind as to whether I figured it right. :)
The character set was mostly nice and likable. The eccentric Poirot (it seems all detectives are rather eccentric people; Sherlock Holmes comes to my mind!) and his friend and narrator, Mr. Hastings provided contrasting points of view on the case keeping the reader in curious wonder as to the turn of the events.
I was very much impressed by Poirot's methods of solving the mystery. It is both genius and humane. His enthusiasm for truth and justice never makes him inconsiderate of human feelings. I truly liked this characteristic of Poirot.
Overall, it was a very interesting first read. I'm very glad to have finally started up with Agatha Christie, though a little late in my reading life. I certainly have missed on a great murder mystery author.
Agatha Christie's first novel and it shows, a somewhat convoluted story with too many red herrings and even an unneeded trial at the end, written by the bored writer during the First World War ( the Great War) no surprise when rejected by the publishers until 1920. Don't get me wrong this is a highly entertaining book for the mystery fan, though with a little more experience the eagle will fly. Now the murder case set in the majestic estate of Styles home of a wealthy woman Emily Inglethorp 70, she recently married a man twenty years her junior, no reason to state people are dubious of his motives and ardor. The lady is no old fool just the wrong man she selects and soon regrets but the factual cliche states love is blind. Mr. Alfred Inglethorp is unloved by relatives of the unblushing bride, her two stepsons John and Lawrence Cavendish especially, John's pretty wife Mary is acting rather in a puzzling way and a new will which changes the future for them but not for the better doesn't help his popularity. Hercule Poirot a Belgian refugee from the German invasion, one of the 250,000 living in England ( they were asked to go back home after the war) and grateful to Mrs. Inglethorp for her financial assistance. A well known detective in Belgium , short in stature eccentric in manners, a funny looking gentleman with the strange appearing mustache who the public here cannot take seriously . A poisoning in the edifice brings the situation to a boil, death is so final everything else seems trivial, still Inspector Japp from the renowned Scotland Yard in a rural atmosphere seems like the proverbial fish out of water, luckily Poirot an old friend is nearby to clear the picture as others mock the foreigner's abilities. However Poirot in his debut radiates magnetism the reader never tires of him or the many novels which follow decade after decade, the legend has become solidified like steel. Mr. Arthur Hastings a friend of Hercules as well as the family of Emily Inglethorp living at Styles Court and is the clueless narrator, a man always one step behind the great sleuth frustrated by his furtive behavior. He only learns the truth when the master investigator reveals it. Arthur an amateur with misguided thoughts has discovered a genius, and all his skepticism disappears, so do the quite impressed people at Styles Court. A promising beginning, which bears fruition... the final words.
This is where Poirot began! Christie’s most famous detective started his investigations (at least on paper) with The Mysterious Affair at Styles. I have already read a couple of his other adventures, so I am a bit out of order. I figured it was time to go back and tackle them the way Christie intended!
This was a strong start and I can see how it appealed enough to become a series. It is fun to follow the quirky behavior and deductive reasoning of our protagonist. While it is not always easy to tell where he is going with his explanations, it all came together in the end.
Another thing this book has going for it is that the mystery was interesting, which is not always the case. A few times I read mystery stories and, while the investigation is interesting, the general plot is lackluster. But, from the moment I met the characters I was hooked. Then it only got more interesting as I learned their backgrounds, witnessed the crime, and then joined Poirot in putting the puzzle pieces together.
I am so glad I tried another classic from Christie. I think if you have any interest in mystery novels you should try Christie, and this would not be a bad place to start.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot #1), Agatha Christie
The Mysterious Affair at Styles original publication year 1920. The famous case that launched the career of Hercule Poirot.
When a wealthy heiress is murdered, Poirot steps out of retirement to find the killer. As the master detective makes his way through the list of suspects, he finds the solution in an elaborately planned scheme almost impossible to believe.
Characters: Hercule Poirot, Inspector Japp, Arthur Hastings, John Cavendish, Emily Inglethorp, Alfred Inglethorp, Cynthia Murdoch, Mary Cavendish, Evie Howard, Lawrence Cavendish.
عنوانها: «جنایت مرموز»؛ «طلوع در استایلز: اسرار خانه ییلاقی»؛ «قتل در عمارت استایلز»؛ «ماجرای اسرارآمیز در استایلز»؛ «اولین پرونده های پوارو»؛ نویسنده: آگاتا کریستی؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 1998 میلادی و سال 2003 میلادی
عنوان: جنایت مرموز، نویسنده: آگاتا کریستی؛ مترجم قیطاس مردانیراد، نشر تهران، پیام عدالت، چاپ نخست 1372، در 305ص.، چاپ دوم در سال 1377؛ شابک: 9645977606؛
عنوان: طلوع در استایلز: اسرار خانه ییلاقی، نویسنده: آگاتا کریستی؛ مترجم: بهرام افراسیابی، نشر: تهران، مراد، 1372، در 333ص.، شابک: ندارد؛ چاپ دیگ: نشر: تهران، مهرفام، 1389، در 333 ص.، شابک 9789649915135؛
عنوان: قتل در عمارت استایلز، نویسنده: آگاتا کریستی؛ مترجم: محی الدین غفرانی، نشر: تهران، ساحل، چاپ نخست 1372، چاپ دوم 1373، در 248ص.، شابک: ندارد
عنوان: اولین پرونده های پوارو، نویسنده: آگاتا کریستی؛ مترجم: محمدرضا عمادی، نشر: تهران، هرم، چاپ نخست 1383، چاپ دوم 1386، در 248ص.، شابک: ندارد
عنوان: ماجرای اسرارآمیز در استایلز، نویسنده: آگاتا کریستی؛ مترجم: رویا سعیدی، نشر: تهران، هرمس، چاپ نخست 1382، چاپ دوم 1386، در 248ص.، چاپ سوم 1390، در 288صفحه، شابک: 9643631699؛
یادداشت: کتاب تحت پنج عنوان متفاوت، به فارسی ترجمه و بارها منتشر شده، عنوان نخست «جنایت مرموز»، با ترجمه ی قیطاس مردانیراد، نشر پیام عدالت، عنوان دوم «طلوع در استایلز: اسرار خانه ییلاقی» با ترجمه ی بهرام افراسیابی، انتشارات مراد، عنوان سوم «قتل در عمارت استایلز»، با ترجمه محی الدین غفرانی، توسط انتشارات ساحل، و عنوان چهارم «ماجرای اسرارآمیز در استایلز»، با ترجمه رویا سعیدی و نیز عنوان پنجم «اولین پرونده های پوارو» با ترجمه ی محمدرضا عمادی، در نشر هرم
داستان «ماجرای اسرارآمیز در استایلز»، اثری به یادماندنی ست، نخستین کتابی ست، که بانو «کریستی» نوشته، و نخستین بار است، که کارآگاه «پوآرو»، کارآگاه بلژیکی، به خوانشگران معرفی میشود. «کریستی» نگارش این کتاب را در سال 1916میلادی، در گیرودار جنگ جهانی نخست، آغاز کردند؛ ایشان در آن سالها، در داروخانه ای در یک بیمارستان، کار، و در اوقات فراغت، روی کتاب کار و سعی میکردند، به پرونده ی پیچیده و کارآگاه عجیب و غریب خویش، زندگی ببخشند. «کریستی» پس از پایان نگارش کتاب، آن را برای شش ناشر ارسال کردند، و همگی آنها کتاب را رد کردند. تا اینکه انتشارات «بادلی» پذیرفت، تا کتاب را با شرایطی نه چندان منصفانه، منتشر کند؛ از انتشار کتاب تنها 25پوند، عاید بانو «کریستی» شد
چکیده و آغاز داستان: بانوی املاک «استایلز»، «کورت» را در رختخواب خود مرده یافت. او به قتل رسیده بود. اعضای خانواده، و نزدیکترین دوستان او، مظنون به قتل بودند: «جان کاوندیش، پسر بزرگ او، که بیشترین منافع را میبرد». «آلفرد اینگلتورپ، شوهر او، که به هنگام وقوع جنایت در محل نبود». «مری، همسر جان، درگیر با دکتر باور اشتاین، نخستین کسی که آن را قتل نامید». «لارنس کاوندیش، پسر کوچکتر قربانی، که فنجان قهوه جنایت را شست». «اِوِلین هاوارد، که ...»؛ «سینتیا مردوک، تحت سرپرستی مقتول، تنها مظنونی که به سم دسترسی داشت». هر کدام میتوانستند قاتل باشند. کاپیتان «آرتور هستینگز»، که هنوز از جراحتی که در جنگ دیده بهبود نیافته، و در حال گذراندن مرخصی استعلاجی است، از یکی از دوستانش به نام «جان کاوندیش»، نامه ای دریافت میکند، که او را دعوت میکند، تا دوره ی نقاهت خود را، در «استایلز کورت» بگذراند. «هستینگز» پس از ورود به «استایلز»، با دیگر اعضای خانواده «کاوندیش»، آشنا میشود. از جمله: «امیلی، که خانم خانه و نامادری جان، و لارنس کاوندیش است، و جان، و لارنس، برای تامین معاش، کاملا وابسته به او هستند». «امیلی» درگیر بعضی فعالیتهای بشردوستانه است، و یکی از فعالیتها این است، که به پناهندگان جنگی، و از جمله گروهی از بلژیکیها، کمک میکند. «هستینگز» یکی از این پناهندگان را از پیش میشناسد. او، کارآگاه معروف، «هرکول پوآرو» است ...؛
از متن کتاب: «فکر نکنید در برنامه ریزی و انجام کارهای تبهکارانه استادید، همیشه هستند کسانی که نقشه شوم و پلیدتان را نقش بر آب میکنند». پایان نقل از متن
تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 23/03/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
This is Agatha Christie’s debut novel, published in 1920, and the first featuring her detective, Hercule Poirot. By any standards it is an assured and well written debut novel and, considering the period it was written, it is also remarkably undated. Apparently, Agatha Christie was challenged by her sister to write a detective story, for which I am eternally grateful, as this was her offering. Like one of the characters in this novel, Agatha worked in the dispensary of a local hospital and gained a knowledge of poisons, which she used in her novel. She also saw the arrival of Belgian refugees during WWI, which gave her detective his background.
Our narrator, Hastings, writes an account of the ‘Affair at Styles.’ He has been invalided home from the Front, when he is invited to stay at Styles with an old friend, John Cavendish. John lives at Styles with his wife, Mary, his brother, Laurence, his step-mother, her companion, Evie Howard and his mother’s ward, Cynthia. Recently, there has been another addition to the household too, as his step-mother has remarried the much younger Alfred Inglethorp. Alfred has caused an air of constraint to the household and, when Mrs Inglethorp is murdered, he is the natural suspect.
Nearby, M. Poirot has been staying in a house provided by Mrs Inglethorp, along with other Belgian refugees. Hastings knew Poirot well and, when the murder occurs, he asks him to investigate. This book contains many of the characters that Poirot fans will come to know well – not only Hastings but Detective Inspector James Japp of Scotland Yard. Interestingly, this edition also includes the original, unpublished ending, in which Poirot explains the crime in the courtroom – before this was re-written at the request of the publisher to take place in the drawing room setting that lovers of Golden Age mysteries are very familiar with. A wonderful beginning to my favourite detective series of all time.
ولأنه يوليو الساخن، والليالي الصيفية تحتاج إلى تشغيل الخلايا الصغيرة بالمخ
فقد انتقلنا إلى مدينة ستايلز لجريمة غامضة ورواية أشهر محقق في تاريخ الأدب، هيركول بوارو، بل رواية أجاثا كريستي نفسها الأولي
سيدة عجوز ثرية وبيت زوجها الراحل الريفي الكبير، حيث تعيش مع زوجها الجديد الذي يصغرها بكثير، وابني زوجها السابق وزوجة أحدهما وفتاة يتيمة تعطف عليها
وعثر عليها مقتولة بالسم..سم في فنجان قهوة وكل أهل البيت مشتبه بهم..بل وشخصيات اخري..لتبدأ الرواية
كما تري ياصديقي فأن اهل البيت الذين لا تربط بينهم جميعا صلة دم واحدة... هم مجرمون محتملون فكل منهم له مصالح تقضي مع موت العجوز.. لكن شكوكنا كلها غالبا ستتفق علي أحدهم بالاخص...كل الشواهد تقول ذلك ولسوء حظ هاستينج ، الراوي، الذي جاء زيارة صيفية في يوليو الساخن لزيارة صديقه بهذا البيت يجد نفسه مجبرا لتشغيل خلايا مخه الرمادية
ولكن من مفاجأة لمفاجأة ستحدث.. ستجد ان هناك كثيرا مما تعتقده ليس صحيحا…. حتي مقدمة المراجعة نفسها
،ولنر تحليل المقدمة ولما ليست صحيحة كليا
بوارو ليس اشهر محقق في تاريخ الادب..علي الاقل ليس وحده
هيركول بوارو ، اشهر محقق سري في تاريخ الأدب يظهر هنا في اول رواية منشورة له في 1920 ، ستجد اسلوبه يتشابه قليلا مع أسلوب سابقه، شيرلوك هولمز الذي صدرت أول رواياته في 1887 ، لآرثر كونان دويل والذي يعد صاحب التأثير في كتابة اجاثا لتلك الشخصية… وبالطبع شيرلوك كان مقتبسا من دوبين لإدجار آلان بو ولكن لهذا مراجعة أخرى ، بل مراجعات مراجعة أول ظهور لشيرلوك هولمز مراجعة أول محقق سري في تاريخ الادب ستجد هنا تشابه بسيط في طريقة تقديم الرواية الاولى مع الاثنان السابقان لبوارو ؛
** الراوي هو صديق المحقق، وطلب منه المحقق ان يدون له تفاصيل القضية وحكايتها لكن بعكس مقدمة معرفتنا بشيرلوك ودوبين ، الراوي هو صديق قديم لذلك المحقق البلجيكي الفذ ..لكنه بالصدفة يقابله بستايلز بعد الحادث ليشركه في التحقيقات
** بوارو كشيرلوك ودوبين فذ جدا ، أنه يصيب دوما في توقعاته مبكرا جدا في الأحداث ويتحفظ علي توقعه ذلك حتي من شريكه الراوي لذلك دوما يأتي الحل بالنهاية مفاجئا وكأن الاخ بوارو لديه خلايا رمادية خارقة للطبيعة ليمكنه من كل هذا الحدس
"الحدس أمر�� مذهلا، لا يمكن شرحه...ولا تجاهله"
ولكن الاختلافات بين رواية بوارو الاولي وشيرلوك ودوبين أفضل بكثير مما منح اجاثا شهرة اضخم -ومبيعات أعلى علي مر السنوات لدرجة اعادة تجسيد الشخصية في فيلم جديد هذا العام بكنيث بيرناه
وهذه الاختلافات في الروايات بينهم اهمها ؛
** تنوع في الشخصيات ، زيادة في الشكوك في كل الشخصيات...هناك ما يسمي ب"الرنجة الحمراء"، أو أدلة مضللة علي كل شخصية يكشفها بوارو لنا كلها بالنهاية بمفاجآت متعددة -وإن كانت أكثر من اللزوم هنا، ولكن لاتنسى انها الرواية الاولى (النصيحة الدائمة) قد تربكك كثرة الشخصيات، ولكن دوما حاول عمل "توزيع أدوار" الشخصيات علي نجوم سينما في خيالك ليسهل عليك المتابعة
** حبكة رواية أجاثا أسرع كثيرا في الحوار والأحداث عن سابقتيها الكلاسيكية التي تتسم بطول الحوار المبالغ فيه احيانا وطول السرد الروائي ايضا بالرغم من قصر حجم روايتهما عن تلك ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ أجاثا كريستي
هي ليست أول ظهور لبوارو، ولا أول رواية لأجاثا كريستي
فقد كتبت أجاثا كريستي من قبل قصة قصيرة ظهر بها هيركول بوارو "علبة الشيكولاتة" هي أول قصة له كتبتها في 1909، ولكن هذه تعد أول رواية طويلة له كما انها ليست أولى رواياتها، وأنما أول رواية تنشر لها..مع العلم أنه سبق لها كتابة روايات كثيرة بعضها لم ينشر والبعض نشر بعد هذه الرواية في 1920 وقد كتبتها في 1916 وسط الحرب العالمية العظمي ، وحتي ستجد تأثير الحرب ظاهرا في خلفية الأحداث بالاخص هي سبب ان بوارو البلجيكي لاجئ سياسي بأنجلترا وقتها
وعاما، لا يهم الترتيب كثيرا في روايات وقصص بوارو عدا طبعا معرفة أن "ستار" هي روايته الاخيرة وبالمناسبة ستدور أحداثها في نفس مكان تلك الرواية , أول رواية طويلة له
هذه مثلا قراءتي الثالثة لبوارو ، بعد "جريمة في قطار الشرق السريع" و "من قتل السيد روجر أركويد"، والاخيرة تلك مشابهة جدا للروايتنا هنا ؛ من ناحية مكان وقوع الاحداث، والشخصيات المحيطة بالقتيل وخريطة حجرة القتيل والاهم ذكر بوارو للحدس النسائي المقتد مراجعة من قتل السيد روجر اركويد ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3- خلايا المخ الرمادية الصغيرة والخيال
نعم، ستعمل الخلايا الصغيرة كما وعدتك بالبداية وكما يقول السيد بوارو بأقصي قوتها أثناء قراءتك الرواية في ليلة من ليالي يوليو الصيفية الحارة...لكن خيالك لن يعرف كيف يحل اللغز الا بالنهاية فقط
ايا كان المشتبه به الذي في خيالك الأول سيظهر لك أنه جاني وبرئ اكثر من مرة علي مدار الأحداث..ولكنك لن يشطح خيالك أبدا لتعرف من هو الجاني الحقيقي
"أنت تمنح الزمام كثيرا لخيالك ، الخيال شيئا جيدا كخادم ، شيئا سيئا كسيد. التفسير الأبسط هو المحتمل أكثر"
ولاننا نحترم مراجعة الروايات البوليسية ، دعنا لا نتحدث اكثر من هذا عن من الحبكة ولكن ادعوك إن لم تبدأ بعد في القراءة لملكة الجريمة علي مر العصور...البدء فورا
فالقليل من تشغيل خلايا المخ الرمادية الصغيرة أمرا منشطا للذهن .. والخيال
I plan to rate all the books I read this year before writing my review for 2022 on Goodreads. I will write a few words about each unrated book and hopefully I will return with more when I have more time.
This is the 1st volume from the famous Hercule Poirot series and it shows. The writing style still needs some refining, same with the characters and plot. Still, a satisfying short mystery.
A fun, timeless mystery. The cast of characters were rich and entertaining, and Poirot is quirky, endearing, and brilliant. Just when you think you know the answer, there is another twist and the final review was both satisfying and impressive. Agatha Christie has a way of weaving a story that is filled with so many moving pieces that fit together effortlessly. A great example of a debut novel, I will be reading more of Poirot’s adventures!
I'm a long time Agatha Christie fan, and I recently decided to re-read some of her novels.
'The Mysterious Affair at Styles' is Agatha Christie's first published book, and it's less sophisticated than her later work. The story does, however, introduce three well-known Christie characters: Hercule Poirot, Captain Hastings, and Inspector Japp.
As the book opens Hastings has been injured in WWI and is recuperating at Styles Court, a manor house in the country.
Styles Court belongs to the Cavendish family, and is currently occupied by a diverse assemblage of people, including: Emily Inglethorpe - the widow of the late Mr. Cavendish. Emily inherited a lifetime interest in the house AND a large sum of money; Emily's new - much younger - husband, Alfred Inglethorpe; Emily's adult stepson, John Cavendish; John's wife Mary; John's bachelor brother Lawrence; Evelyn Howard - Emily's longtime friend and companion; Cynthia Murdoch - the orphaned daughter of family friends; and Dorcas, the maid.
There's a tense atmosphere at Styles because of simmering resentments and secrets. For example:
- John Cavendish - who'll inherit the manor house when his stepmother dies - thinks it should have been his all along; in addition, John is suspected of dallying with the pretty wife of a neighboring farmer.
- John's wife Mary, in turn, spends a lot of time with Dr. Bauerstein - the local toxicologist who hails from Germany. To add to this 'quadrangle', Captain Hastings has a crush on beautiful Mary.
- Evelyn Howard hates Alfred Inglethorpe, convinced he only married Emily for her money.
- Alfred Inglethorpe's thick beard looks like a disguise, and he has long poorly explained absences.
- Lawrence Cavendish resents Cynthia Murdoch, who's very aware of her status as an 'outsider'; Cynthia supports herself with a job in a pharmacy.....and she seems to be the only one of this bunch who's actually employed.
As it happens, a group of Belgian refugees, including Hercule Poirot, are living in a house near Styles Court - an arrangement facilitated by Emily Inglethorpe. Hastings is thrilled to see Poirot and lauds the former policeman's detective skills - so it's clear they've met before.
In the midst of the testy atmosphere at Styles Court Emily Inglethorpe dies from strychnine poisoning - in a locked room.
Hastings suspects foul play and prevails on Poirot to investigate, and the Belgian complies.....with Hastings as his partner. To round out the 'detective trio', Inspector Japp is assigned to the case.
During the investigation Poirot learns that Emily had a loud fight with an unknown male on the day before she died; Emily's latest will is missing; there have been shenanigans with Emily's locked document box; someone bought strychnine at the town's pharmacy; coffee and cocoa were consumed on the evening of the murder....and a cup has been smashed; there's something suspicious about Emily's medicine packets; etc.
As often happens in these stories, Poirot makes shrewd deductions about everything.....but doesn't share them; Hastings tries to demonstrate his investigative skills but misinterprets most of the clues; and Japp hares off after the wrong suspect(s).
The book is chock full of misdirection and red herrings, but - in the end - Poirot gathers the suspects and reveals the truth.
The book is just so-so. Though Christie's nascent writing skills are apparent, the plot is overly convoluted (to the point of unbelievability); Poirot talks too much (yak yak yak); and there's a whiff of anti-Semitism and classism (though this is common in Christie's books.....a sign of her times.)
If you're a long time Agatha Christie fan, this book would make a fun re-read; and if you're new to the famous author's works, this is a good place to start.
After having my interest peaked in Hercule Poirot (a character not well known to me) after reading about Belgium during World War 1 and then watching Murder On The Orient Express which plot I enjoyed a lot, I decided to give this a try and I was not disappointed!! Christie's writing style from the point of view of Hastings into the mystery of the murder is simply magnificent and from the beginning she makes everyone a suspect and keeps you guessing and wondering who committed the crime right until the end where Poirot brings it to light. Poirot is very interesting in his methods and seems mad at times through the eyes of Hastings and the last chapter in which Poirot tells how he came to his conclusions is well crafted. Highly recommended and this is a series I will continue with.
How did I go for so long without reading an Agatha Christie?! I wish I'd picked one up sooner! I figured my first read should be the first book published (I have an irrational need to read books in order) and I have to say that this is a fantastic debut novel. Most authors' work gets better with time - if Christie gets better than this then I have some treats in store!
Long story cut short:- Mrs Inglethorp, the old lady owner of Styles Court, suffers a violent fit early one morning and dies. It appears that foul play is in the air and the family bring in Hercule Poirot to investigate...
This book was everything a murder mystery should be. There were intriguing characters (which, incidentally, are nicely fleshed-out), a page-turning plot, plenty of clues and red-herrings and, best of all, it kept me guessing right until the very end. The narration also works well - by having Hastings as the narrator, we don't get to see inside Poirot's head, so we can continue to form our own conclusions right to the end.
I also liked how quaint this was. As a reader of more modern thrillers such as James Patterson, Lee Child and David Baldacci, it was nice to realise that there isn't always a requirement for violence, blood and guts in order to have a good plot.
I will definitely be picking up more of Christie's work.
First Read: September 2016, Rating: 4 Stars Second Read: November 2018, Rating: 4 Stars
This is the first installment in the Hecule Poirot series and was just as brilliant as every other detective book I have read by the undoubted Queen of crime fiction!
The novel is set in an English manor house, Styles, owned by the the Cavendish family. Hastings, our protagonist, is staying with the family in their regal abode when the unexpected and inexplicable murder of Emily Cavendish (or the more recently referred to, Emily Inglethorpe) occurs. The murder scene, a locked bedroom, baffles detectives and family alike, and it is up to the famous Belgian detective to solve this unsolvable puzzle.
I already knew a death would occur before I even turned the first page, as this is a Christie novel, but that didn't dampen the thrilling atmosphere. The emphasis placed on Mrs Cavendish/Inglethorp's "as yet untasted coffee" early in the novel also led me to a premature conclusion concerning the victim and the means of her demise. Even this didn't hamper my enjoyment, but added to it: I adore playing the amateur sleuth and seeing if my predictions come true. And that is where Christie's brilliance lies. She involves the reader in the crime and places them in Poirot's role, in the hope of uncovering the clues that will lead to the answer of 'whoddunit?'.
I love Christie for giving us an almost voyeuristic insight into the historical upper-class. I also love that the characters continually dismiss Poirot. I have also experienced this in the Miss Marple series. Both are deemed 'past it' when they don't jump to the same, obvious conclusion as the other characters, yet the reader knows who will ultimately be proven correct.
As always, Christie takes the reader in a series of previously unsuspected direction before all is revealed and solved just before the close of the novel. This, as with all her other works, left me completely baffled throughout as to who the perpetrator of the crime was. I am no Poirot, but I enjoy attempting to assume his role in these thrilling insights into historical England.
Primera novela de la gran Agatha Christie. Aparece por primera vez el personaje de Poirot junto con Hastings. Novela muy entretenida. Tiene un ritmo ágil. Tal vez no goza de la tensión dramática de otras novelas suyas, pero tiene todos los ingredientes que cualquier lector de misterio quiere: un buen detective, un buen narrador, una buena trama y unos personajes bien construidos. Esta novela es el principio de todo.
First novel by the great Agatha Christie. The character of Poirot appears for the first time together with Hastings. Very entertaining novel. It has an agile pace. Perhaps it does not have the dramatic tension of her other novels, but it has all the ingredients that any mystery reader wants: a good detective, a good narrator, a good plot and well-constructed characters. This novel is the beginning of everything.
Agatha Christie is the best selling author of all time, we’re told. Sure, Shakespeare. Sure, The Holy Bible. But literally billions of books sold, without question. Mainly Hercule Poirot and Miss (Jane) Marple mysteries, but short story collections and many plays, too. This is the way this gets started: Her sister challenges her to write a mystery. During WWI she is working in a hospital, gets interested in toxicology, and thinks: okay, poisons, you could kill someone with those. But let's just imagine how, hmm. It takes Dame Christie (yes, the [British, quite right] Queen honors her at the age of 81, finally) about five years to get published, and right way this first novel gets pretty rave reviews.
I have over my lifetime read a few of her books and seen acclaimed movies and some of the acclaimed tv series based on her books, but I am not particularly interested in mystery as a genre. Okay, well, I admit I am a willing part of the current Sherlockization [I hereby patent this word, friends] [because no one else wants it!] of the planet, I’ll admit it. And twenty years ago in a production of her longest running play [in English?] of all time, The Mousetrap, I actually played Christopher Wren, so there’s that. But I would not have picked this up except I passed it at a library display and on a whim thought: This is her very first Poirot mystery. Maybe I will just read this one and then the next 32 of them. I am in a decade of my life when I seem to recall people do such things. . . We’ll see.
So: It’s pretty good. I have read better from her (and maybe will again). And at times you see flashes of what is to come, the brilliance. The less than good part features an idiot of a narrator and sidekick character, Hastings, who never understands anything, who never gets it, who never outguesses or comes up with any good ideas. But why would Poirot realistically want to spend any time with him? He barely does, and when he does, he barely lets him in on anything, but who would?
Okay, you need a foil in these things, like the bumbling Watson, the everyman smart-enough guy who is US, the reader, who gets blinded by the dazzling insights of the Brilliant Savant. We and Watson are the spectators. The chorus. We are not smart enough or good enough or logical enough to be Sherlock or Poirot. But like watching chess matches or football games, we fancy we can maybe get a little smarter if we listen and watch The Master. But this idiot Hastings seems at this point TOO dumb, and is an unfortunate narrator most of the time. He’s stuffy and dull and not observant, almost never. I guess Hastings is written for laughs, but why would anyone like Poirot really want to spend any time with hm? I don't like him at this early point.
And then, and then! after several dull pages she would have cut years later, she has Hastings admire Poirot, and in this very first book, where almost no character is interesting or fully realized, Dame Christie does this brilliant thing, this Dedalus thing, this Pygmalion thing, she creates this fully realized amazing guy and breathes him into life. In the FIRST book he is already there, in her very first description:
"Poirot was an extraordinary-looking little man. He was hardly more than five feet four inches, but carried himself with great dignity. His head was exactly the shape of an egg. And he always perched it a little on one side. His moustache was very stiff and military. The neatness of his attire was almost incredible: I believe a speck of dust would have caused him more pain than a bullet wound. Yet this quaint dandified little man, who I was sorry to see, limped badly, had once been in his time one of the most celebrated members of the Belgian police."
Poirot is a Belgian transplanted to England. He’s parodied in Peter Falk’s Colombo, who is an opposite Poirot, a slob. And Inspector Clouseau, of course! Every time Poirot arrives on the scene, every time he speaks, in this first book, he is great!
Christie has this nice idea to have Poirot, when he is really cooking on a problem, make houses of cards: “No, mon ami, I am not in my second childhood! I steady my nerves, that is all. This employment requires precision of the fingers. With precision of the fingers goes precision of the brain.” Things like that are rare in this first volume, but when they appear they are little gems.
Some weird things that may have been a function of the time and her early career:
--What is there about “foreigners” (like Russians and Germans) that get configured as darkly exotic? One character may be a German spy; it’s WWI, okay, but still, in many of her mysteries foreigners create a certain mysteriously criminal atmosphere.
--The German guy is also Jewish, and there might be a tad bit of anti-Semitism in her conception of said character.
--Mr. (the idiot, yes totally clueless) Hastings at one point actually asks a woman, Cynthia Murdoch, the beautiful, orphaned daughter of a friend of the family, whom he hardly knows, it seems, to marry him. “'Cynthia, will you marry me?’ ‘Don’t be silly.’” She laughs and turns him down and runs away, to her credit. But when you read it, you say loud: Whuuuuut?! (Too) dumb.
--The characterizations of almost any other characters than Poirot are almost absent. There’re almost no descriptions of anyone or anything. It is almost all dialogue, as good as that dialogue might be. Is. She can write, already in her early twenties (!), but it’s not a whole book. Better than most mysteries ever, don’t get me wrong, but not as good as she gets.
Christie says it herself: "I was still writing in the Sherlock Holmes tradition – eccentric detective, stooge assistant, with a Lestrade-type Scotland Yard detective, Inspector Japp." So she knows, looking back, that while it’s good, it's not yet great. But Poirot is great from the first; she must have known this, as all the critics already did. And the tight and inspired plotting too is there, right from the first. Oh, but she makes another mistake she could not have anticipated, exactly: She makes Poirot well-retired, in his sixties! How will she be able to write him for decades without aging him?! Oops. You should have anticipated becoming internationally famous, Agatha.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles is Agatha Christies first published novel and the introduction of Poirot to the world. While it suffers from the fact that Poirot is not the calm and methodical detective he would later become it soars in the plotting and intricacy of the mystery. What would seem to be a straightforward murder mystery becomes a tangled web of clues - a Christie trait that she establishes from the very beginning. Moreover, just as she would later make her trademark, all the clues are there in front of the reader. It takes the mind of Poirot to put them together. This is a "MUST READ!"
This is the first book of the Poirot series that I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The mysterious affair at Styles follows a household in the wake of the murder of the matriarch. Poirot and Mr Hastings as they work to unravel the mysterious events that have been happening.
I had previously tried to read a Miss Marple novel but didn’t enjoy it much. However, I preferred this storyline and felt it was much more fast paced. It has made me want to delve deeper into the Poirot books. I can finally understand why people love Agatha Christie so much.
Her style is easy to read and so timeless. I felt like I was in the middle of a cluedo game! I loved the twists and turns that she threaded throughout, followed by the onslaught of information in the closing chapters to tie up all the loose ends.
I would definitely recommend this book to any other crime/thriller fans. Christie’s work is so classic. I shall be hunting down some more of her books for myself!
4★ ‘What have I always told you? Everything must be taken into account. If the fact will not fit the theory—let the theory go.’
‘Well, we shall see,’ I said, nettled.”
Hercule Poirot, world-renowned Belgian detective extraordinaire, first arrived on the literary scene in 1920, in this, Agatha Christie’s very first book. He seems to have arrived fully formed, with all of his eccentricities and powerful “little grey” cells ready to go.
“He was hardly more than five feet, four inches, but carried himself with great dignity. His head was exactly the shape of an egg, and he always perched it a little on one side. His moustache was very stiff and military. The neatness of his attire was almost incredible. I believe a speck of dust would have caused him more pain than a bullet wound.”
He is introduced to us by Hastings, a young man returning from the front of WW1 to relax with his old friend John Cavendish at Styles, the Cavendish family estate. John’s mother is the matriarch of the family, whom Hastings remembers from past visits as
“a lady who liked to make her own plans, and expected other people to fall in with them, and in this case she certainly had the whip hand, namely: the purse strings.”
She’s now made her own plans to the extent that she remarried a rather strange man, twenty years younger, whom nobody seems to like. A gold-digger, perhaps? There are many other characters, all living or staying at Styles, and a few, like Poirot, from the nearby village.
This situation became a Christie trademark – a closed group of people “It must be one of us!” living or staying together in a single dwelling (island, train).
Someone dies in suspicious circumstances, (of course – this is Agatha Christie, after all), and Hastings asks if he might invite his old friend Poirot, a retired detective who is currently living in the village with a group of Belgians, to help investigate.
Ah, the clues are many, the bits of thread, the grains of this or that, the odd timing of someone’s arrival or departure, the pieces of conversation overheard through closed doors – the suspicions! Little locked boxes, locked desks, bolted doors – all part of the mystery.
Hastings greatly admires Poirot and knows how clever he is, and is delighted when Poirot compliments him on some observation Hastings offers. But when Poirot seems dismissive of his ‘insight’, Hastings thinks Poirot should count himself lucky that he has Hastings there to consult with.
“I shrugged my shoulders. If he was going to take the matter that way, it was no good arguing with him. The idea crossed my mind, not for the first time, that poor old Poirot was growing old. Privately I thought it lucky that he had associated with him some one of a more receptive type of mind. Poirot was surveying me with quietly twinkling eyes.
‘You are not pleased with me, mon ami?’ ‘My dear Poirot,’ I said coldly, ‘it is not for me to dictate to you. You have a right to your own opinion, just as I have to mine.’ ‘A most admirable sentiment,’ remarked Poirot, rising briskly to his feet.”
Fortunately, Poirot's twinkling eyes indicate he doesn’t take offence, and Hastings is generous enough to concede (privately, to us) from time to time, that really, the little fellow is something special and can outwit anyone.
A delightful introduction to Christie’s enormous, influential body of work. It is a bit dated, (well, of course), and I didn’t find it quite as compelling as I might have when it was first published. But I certainly enjoyed M. Poirot’s (and Christie’s) debut!
The Mysterious Affair at Styles can only be categorized as a classic among classics. In 1920, on the strength of a dare, Agatha Christie penned a cozy mystery that introduced a grateful reading world to Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings, the detective and sidekick duo who hold their place in literary fame alongside such luminaries as Holmes and Watson or Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe.
Captain Arthur Hastings, a guest at Styles Court, the family manor of long-time friend John Cavendish, finds himself hip-deep in a locked room murder mystery when Cavendish's mother, Emily Inglethorpe, is found poisoned by strychnine inside her locked bedroom! Hastings, who fancies himself a competent amateur sleuth, suggests the Cavendish family engage his friend, Hercule Poirot, a recently retired Belgian detective of no small skill and reputation, to find the culprit. There is certainly no shortage of possible motives, clues and suspects - John and Lawrence Cavendish, the victim's sons who are suffering from pecuniary difficulty and constant financial embarrassment; Alfred Ingelthorpe, the blackguard, money-grubbing husband who stands to inherit the entire estate at the expense of the rest of the family; Evie Howard, Mrs Inglethorpe's companion and long-time family friend recently dismissed from the estate after a bitter argument with the matriarch over the intentions of her new husband; Cynthia Murdoch, the chemist with access to strychnine; or perhaps Dr Bauerstein, a renowned expert on poisons entangled in an affair with Mary Cavendish!
A thoroughly enjoyable novel, easily read in a couple of sittings, The Mysterious Affair at Styles introduced us to all the hallmarks of typical Poirot mysteries - the quirky, vain fastidiousness of the little Belgian detective and his love of method, order and the use of "the little gray cells"; the loyalty, charm, unfailing gentlemanly behaviour and decidedly humorous upper class character of the ex-military man, Hastings; the liberal sprinkling of clues and possible suspects; and, of course, the much-loved and often imitated stereotypical congregation of the entire cast in the single room climax in which Poirot outlines his deductions and reveals the culprit for the edification of all!
If you've never read an Agatha Christie mystery, this would perhaps be THE place to start! If you've read her work before, then pick this one up again, re-read it and discover why you fell in love with Agatha Christie and Poirot in the first place.
The diminutive portly Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, seems to have sprung from nowhere, complete with his perfect dandy attire, patent leather shoes, waxed moustache and all. We know his sharp wits, his quick smile and “quietly twinkling eyes”. We know that “if anything excited him, his eyes turned green like a cat’s”. We know of his “egg-shaped” head and his insistence on neatness and order in all things, to enable the “little grey cells” of his brain to work. Here we also see an exuberant side to him: “I am like a giant refreshed. I run! I leap! And in very truth, run and leap he did, gambolling wildly down the stretch of lawn outside the long window.”
“Sometimes, I feel sure he is as mad as a hatter; and then, just as he is at his maddest, I find there is method in his madness.”
But where did he spring from? Did one of Agatha Christie’s most famous creations, who starred in a wealth of novels and stories, just arrive, fully formed? I determined to read the first novel in which he appeared, to see for myself. It was The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which although written in the middle of the First World War, in 1916, was first published in 1920.
Almost at once it is obvious that Agatha Christie is paying homage to the great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. What we are reading, is an account set down by one “Captain Arthur Hastings”, of the recent events at a country house called “Styles Court”. Captain Hastings is a rather formal, pondering, old-fashioned sort of chap, and although he diligently records everything in logical order, he makes sure his readers know that he only selects what he himself considers to be pertinent. Does he remind you of anyone? A certain other rather bluff ex-army doctor perhaps called “Doctor John Watson”?
Captain Hastings also refers to a Belgian policeman, now retired, whom he used to know. His tone is rather deprecating, as he admits that this detective used unusual methods, and had some success, but that he had really had his day, poor chap.
“I restrained my tongue. After all, though he was old, Poirot had been a great man in his day.”
Captain Arthur Hastings, however, had rather a flair for these sorts of things, although he said so himself. He would develop these methods, and streamline them into a modern way of detecting. Such too, had been Dr. John Watson’s early impressions of Sherlock Holmes, as a rather eccentric fellow, given to fanciful and fantastic ideas, which repeatedly confounded Watson, as they often turned out to be right. This is almost a direct parallel.
We smile to ourselves, as Agatha Christie has skilfully shown us by this uncanny reference, that we can enjoy the inside joke, whether or not we know Hercule Poirot of old. In The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Captain Hastings is on sick leave from the Western Front, and currently a guest at “Styles Court”, a country manor house in Essex, belonging to a wealthy old lady, Emily Inglethorp. Poirot has now settled in the village, near to the home of Emily Inglethorp, who had helped him start out again, after being a Belgian refugee of World War I. Sure enough, Hastings bumps into Hercule Poirot himself in the village. Both men are delighted and surprised. We too are delighted - but not at all surprised.
Neither are we surprised at the murder which ensues. By the time of Poirot’s appearance, we are perhaps a third of the way through the book. We are also to meet another reincarnation; this time of a police officer, already known to Poirot.
Sherlock Holmes had his Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade to contend with. Lestrade was a solid police officer, who was originally set against the amateur Holmes, but as time went on, rather grudgingly acknowledged that Holmes’s wit and methods were way in advance of his. So with the trio here. Hercule Poirot is ably assisted by the lack-lustre Hastings, and we are introduced in this first novel to Agatha Christie’s own PC Plod, who is Inspector James Japp:
“Mr Poirot? It was in 1904 he and I worked together - the Abercrombie forgery case - you remember, he was run down in Brussels. Ah those were great days, Moosier …”
“He was considered one of the finest detectives of his day”.
Captain Hastings faithfully sets down the order of events at Styles Court, and we follow along with him, through the story, as he recounts the events one by one.
“I’ve always had a secret hankering to be a detective!”
He is so confident at the start that he will demonstrate to Poirot how to solve the case, that it is a joy to watch the interaction between the two. We have a cast of several characters, all of whom are on the scene, and staying at Styles Court.
First of all, there is the victim of the case, Emily Inglethorp, who had inherited her fortune and the manor house, Styles Court, following the death of her first husband, Mr Cavendish. She had recently married Alfred Inglethorp, a much younger man than herself, who was considered by her family to be nothing but an arrogant fortune-hunter. We also meet John and Lawrence Cavendish, Emily’s two stepsons, from her first husband’s previous marriage. Lawrence Cavendish is known to have studied medicine. John is married to Mary Cavendish, a friend of Dr. Bauerstein, Emily’s doctor. Dr. Bauerstein is a well-known toxicologist, who is not actually in the house, but resides quite close to Styles Court.
There is also a sharp, no nonsense sort of woman, Evelyn Howard, Emily’s companion, who is the most outspoken of the residents about her dislike of Alfred Inglethorp: “Watch that devil - her husband”. There is also a kind of “poor relation”, Cynthia Murdoch. She is an orphan, and the daughter of a deceased friend of the family. Cynthia is never allowed to forget that she does not share the same privileges as the others, but it becomes clear from the start that Captain Hastings is sweet on Cynthia (and in fact that he has a soft spot for all young women). Cynthia Murdoch works at a nearby hospital’s pharmacy, still doing war-work. Finally we have Dorcas, a maid at Styles, and an honest and true “salt of the earth” character.
When Emily Inglethorp is poisoned with strychnine, it is up to Poirot to use his detective skills, developed in the Belgian Police Force, to solve the mystery. As we learn more about each of the characters, our suspicions veer back and forth, from one suspect to another.
“The idea crossed my mind, not for the first time, that poor old Poirot was growing old. Privately I thought that it was lucky that he had associated with someone of a more receptive type of mind.”
We follow Captain Hastings’s indignation with delight, as Poirot innocently seems to ignore the obvious explanation, and go off on wild goose chases, until the final showdown. Poirot loves his theatrical endings, where he assembles all the suspects together: “bowing as though he were a celebrity about to deliver a lecture” before gradually explaining why each of them, one by one, could have committed the murder. This time his grand revelation is set in the Styles library, and we know that the last one to be announced, will be the one who did it.
“Yes, he is intelligent. But we must be more intelligent. We must be so intelligent that he does not suspect us of being intelligent at all.”
“You see, my friend, you have a nature so honest, and a countenance so transparent, that - enfin, to conceal your feelings is impossible!”
“You gave too much rein to your imagination. Imagination is a good servant and a bad master. The simplest explanation is always the most likely.”
I can almost promise that you will not guess the ending to this one. A classic whodunnit; set in a large, isolated country manor, with many other guests; the murder of a wealthy woman, in a closed room. “All the doors had been bolted on the inside.” To aid our own attempts at detection, the novel includes maps of the house, the murder scene, and a drawing of a fragment of a will.
“Beware! Peril to the detective who says: “It is so small - it does not matter. It will not agree. I will forget it.” That way lies confusion!”
There is an abundance of clues, and half a dozen suspects, most of whom are hiding facts about themselves. Perhaps there are almost too many red herrings.
“A vague suspicion of everyone and everything filled my mind. Just for a moment I had a premonition of approaching evil.”
Agatha Christie had begun working on The Mysterious Affair at Styles in 1916, writing most of it whilst staying at an hotel on Dartmoor. She said that the character of Hercule Poirot was inspired by her experience working as a nurse, ministering to Belgian soldiers during the First World War, and also by the Belgian refugees who were living in her home town of Torquay.
Just as with Victorian novels, The Mysterious Affair at Styles was first published in serial form. It was serialised weekly in “The Times” newspaper, including the maps of the house and the other illustrations included in the book. Later, it was to become one of the first ten books published by “Penguin Books” when the publishing house was established in 1935.
“The Times Literary Supplement” said in 1921: “The only fault this story has is that it is almost too ingenious.” Nevertheless, it is extraordinary to think that The Mysterious Affair at Styles was Agatha Christie’s first ever mystery novel. She only got better, to earn her title as the Queen of Crime, and one of the best ever exponents of the golden era of detective murder mysteries.
Added Edit: Poirot's first ever entrance, viewed by Captain Hastings:
“Poirot was an extraordinary looking little man. He was hardly more than five feet, four inches, but carried himself with great dignity. His head was exactly the shape of an egg, and he always perched it a little on one side. His moustache was very stiff and military. The neatness of his attire was almost incredible. I believe a speck of dust would have caused him more pain than a bullet wound. Yet this quaint dandyfied little man who, I was sorry to see, now limped badly, had been in his time one of the most celebrated members of the Belgian police. As a detective, his flair had been extraordinary, and he had achieved triumphs by unravelling some of the most baffling cases of the day.”