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Literary Friday: The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Friday, June 7, 2024


Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Today I'm reviewing Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Affair at Styles.  It was the featured book in the spring The Literary Book Club Box.  This is the first book featuring the Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot, and it's also Agatha Christie's first published novel.

According to Goodreads:

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.

NOTE:  The Literary Book Club Box sent this beautiful Chiltern edition of the book. 
If you're unfamiliar with these beautiful editions from England, please use this link and take a look at them.  They are lovely!

My Review

I enjoyed this mystery very much, and I was truly in awe that this was Agatha Christie's first book.  Written in the middle of World War I and published in 1920, the novel is set toward the end of the First World War. I enjoyed the setting of the rural Essex village of Styles St. Mary and the Styles Court estate during the height of summer.  I can't believe that I hadn't read it before because I've read so many of her mysteries, especially from the Miss Jane Marple series.

A young soldier named Arthur Hastings is on sick leave from the Western Front.  He travels to Styles St. Mary to spend his leave at the estate of his friend John Cavendish.  One morning the household awakens to find that Emily Inglethorp, the elderly and wealthy owner, has died from strychnine poisoning. Emily is also John's step-mother, and he and his brother Lawrence are resentful that Emily has married a strange younger man named Alfred Inglethorp.  Emily has bequeathed the estate to John, however the rest of her money may be distributed however she pleases.  There are other members of the household including John's wife, a young nurse and daughter of a family friend who runs an apothecary in the local hospital, and a female companion of Emily's.  Hastings asks his old friend the Belgian exile Hercule Poirot to investigate the murder.  

The book is narrated by Hastings, and he tends to fall for all the red herrings in the plot.  He also gets frustrated with Poirot from time to time because Poirot doesn't always share every theory and his movements with Hastings.  I must say that this is the genius of Christie's plot because the reader is also Hastings: distracted, confused, and confounded.  However Poirot is a genius at analyzing clues and observing human nature.  He solves the crime and prevents an innocent from being incarcerated.  

If you enjoy mysteries, you must read this classic.  It's worth it just for the introduction to Hercule Poirot.  Christie does a phenomenal job developing one of literature's favorite characters, and I found myself giggling from time to time at his quirky mannerisms and sartorial obsessiveness.  

Instinct is a marvelous thing.  It can neither be explained nor ignored.

~Hercule Poirot The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Do you have a favorite Agatha Christie mystery?

Please come back Tuesday for our summer tablescape blog hop!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill


  1. I don't think I've ever read this book although I've read several and love this author! Even if I've read it years ago, I think I'll check it out from the library!

  2. I didn't realize this was her first published novel. I've only read one Agatha Christie mystery, and that was And Then There Were None. I absolutely loved it, so I need to read more! The Chiltern editions are so lovely. I'm slowly collecting them as I read/re-read some classics.


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.


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