Agatha Christie made her impressive debut with ‘The Mysterious Affairs at Styles’, the first adventure of Hercule Poirot. The book was written towards the end of the First World War and was published by The Bodley Head in 1920. Though the book cannot be claimed as a great read, it was with this book Christie established herself as a major new talent.
Image Source: Goodreads.com
Her creation ‘Hercule Poirot’ later on became one of the most popular detectives in crime fiction. He is featured in 33 novels and 65 short stories. Even today, people not only adore the character of this Belgian detective but also love to read books featuring Poirot again and again. You can take me as an example who loves revisiting Poirot books.
One characteristic feature that makes Agatha Christie special is her ability to create ingenious plots. And, that’s why she is also known as an innovative puzzle-plotter. In addition, Christie also provided the potential for the reader to solve the mystery alongside the detective in her novels. The pleasure of reading these novels is in trying to solve the crime by analysing all the clues provided in the books and catching the murderer before the detective. ‘The Mysterious Affairs at Styles’ is one such book, where all the clues have been presented in front of you.
Being the first book featuring Hercule Poirot, you get your first impression of this Belgian sleuth. You come to know about his oval-shaped head, outrageous moustaches and overbearing self-importance. And, slowly but steadily, you start to develop a liking towards him. You are also introduced to Hasting – the invalid war-hero sent home from the front. In fact, Hasting is introduced first and then Poirot. Both of these together try to solve a murder mystery and, in process, start to love the company of each other.
The book has everything an Agatha Christie mystery should have. There are a number of interesting characters, an interesting murder, a large number of clues and a great plot. The narration is good and the language is both simple and easy to follow. However, in no way, this book can be considered as a must read. You feel that it could have been better. The story sometimes even bore you. Being Christie’s first work, the book certainly lacks the subtlety of later works. So, do not compare it with works like ‘And Then There Were None’ and ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’, which were masterpieces of Christie’s art.
In any case, it was not a bad read at all. While I enjoyed reading it, I did not find the book as intrigued as I had hoped. It could be that I have been reading too many Christie books lately.
This Book Review is a part of ‘Agatha Christie Reading Challenge‘.