Wednesday, 8 May 2013

''The Mysterious Affair at Styles''- Book Review

Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1920

Genres: Crime, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Rating: 3 out of 5


The Mysterious Affair at Styles is the first novel by the great Agatha Christie- and the novel where she introduced one of her most famous characters, Hercule Poirot. This novel was an enjoyable and appreciable read, but I must say that I didn't think it was an excellent read. I liked it, BUT didn't love it.

The novel is set during the First World War. Captain Hastings arrives at the Styles Court, a manor, upon the invitation of his old friend John Cavendish.  The household consists of John and Lawrence Cavendish's stepmother, Emily Inglethorp, an amiable and generous socialite; John's beautiful wife, Mary; Cynthia, the orphaned daughter of Mrs Inglethorp's friend; Evelyn Howard, Mrs Inglethorp's constant companion; and Alfred Inglethorp, Emily's new husband, a sinister-looking man who is decades younger than her. Everybody of the house is displeased at Mrs Inglethorp for marrying the man. Particularly, Miss Howard thinks that Alfred Inglethorp is a dangerous man, and is after Emily's money, and may even cause harm to dear old Emily. She gets into a quarrel with Mrs Inglethorp about this topic- and then angrily leaves the house. Hastings (who is the narrator) comments that with Miss Howard's departure, a secure feeling has also left the house.

Then early one morning, everybody of the house are shocked to learn that Mrs Inglethorp is very sick. They run into her room, and minutes later, she dies. This shocking tragedy leaves everybody puzzled. How, why, did it happen? The doctors conclude that it was because of poisoning. Hastings asks his detective friend, Hercule Poirot, to investigate the case. Poirot happily agrees. Suspicions go to Mr Inglethorp... But Poirot seems to believe that Alfred Inglethorp is innocent. Questions arise: How was the poison taken to Mrs Inglethorp? On a coffee cup or on cocoa? And the most important question of all: who did it?

This was a book filled with suspense and mystery. The mystery is quite puzzling. But however, I have to admit that I couldn't just suspect somebody (except maybe Mr Inglethorp, whom the characters also had suspected) because it was presented in such a way that it was difficult to suspect anyone. And the story took such sudden turns which make both Hastings and the reader confused (which can make everybody confused, except Poirot, who, until the ending, kept silently and cleverly working on the mystery). The clues didn't solve much. It was only the ending which made me really understand what really had happened. But I also have to say that I thought that the solution was not that satisfying. The overall novel was pleasant, enjoyable, yet not as suspenseful as to make this novel excellent. The overall novel wasn't confusing, rather the story was simple and really unpredictable.

Overall, it is a good mystery novel, the mystery is quite puzzling, and I'd recommend it. 

3 out of 5

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