10 January 2021


  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • First published 1920
  • #1 Hercule Poirot
  • Print length : 313 pages 

Synopsis (Agatha Christie.com)

Agatha Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was the result of a dare from her sister Madge who challenged her to write a story. The story begins when Hastings is sent back to England from the First World War due to injury and is invited to spend his sick leave at the beautiful Styles Court by his old friend John Cavendish. Here, Hastings meets John’s step-mother, Mrs Inglethorp, and her new husband, Alfred. Despite the tranquil surroundings Hastings begins to realise that all is not right. When Mrs Inglethorp is found poisoned, suspicion falls on the family, and another old friend, Hercule Poirot, is invited to investigate.

My Take

I have read this novel many times, but starting in February I am leading a small group into reading the first 5 Poirot novels and the first 5 Marples during the coming months..

So I have read this novel with a focus on what I want the group to get out of their reading.

So here are some of the points I want them to see:

  • the novel introduces us to Hercule Poirot and we get our first descriptions of him
  • How old is Poirot? Clues? Does Christie age him realistically?
  • It also introduces Arthur Hastings and his role as the narrator of the Poirot stories, and the foil to Poirot's brilliance and
  • Why did Agatha Christie write this novel, and what role did her own knowledge of poisons play in the plot?
  • I want them to look at Agatha Christie as a commentator on her times, how she gives a background and setting to the action of the novel.
  • some of the features of this novel: the locked room mystery
  • The final denouement sets up a pattern that is repeated in subsequent Poirot novels
  • the fact that this novel introduces some characters that recur in later novels

My rating: 4.5

Some useful links

My previous review on this site

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