Friday Forgotten Book: The Mysterious Affair at Styles

this is the 86th book in my series of forgotten books

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie © 1916, Bantam Books 1961 mass market paperback, mystery – first Hercule Poirot

It had been a very long time since I read this one, the first appearance of Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Certainly not forgotten, but then who has read it any time at all recently?

This one is set in England during World War I at Styles Court, an Essex country manor Upon her husband’s death, the wealthy widow, Emily Cavendish, who had recently remarried a much younger man, Alfred Inglethorp, inherited a life estate in Styles as well as the outright inheritance of the larger part of her late husband’s income.

Emily’s two stepsons, John and Lawrence Cavendish, as well as John’s wife Mary and several other people, also live at Styles. John Cavendish is the vested remainderman of Styles; that is, the property will pass to him automatically upon his stepmother’s death per his late father’s will, while the income left to Mrs Inglethorp would be distributed per Mrs. Inglethorp’s own will.

Late one night, the residents of Styles wake to find Emily Inglethorp dying of what proves to be strychnine poisoning. Lieutenant Hastings, a houseguest, enlists the help of his friend Hercule Poirot, who just happens to be staying in the nearby village, Styles St. Mary. Poirot pieces together events surrounding the murder.

I’ll not go further into the plot and characters, that’s for the reader to discover, or recall for all who have read this one. As I said, I had read it but didn’t remember much about it at all, including the twists and ending, so it was all new turf for me. As enjoyable as ever – I enjoy just about all of the Poirot and Marple novels – it was nice to revisit this pair.

I’ll note here that next week Friday Forgotten Books has a single-author day for Margaret Millar, and a month following that the single author day will be Agatha Christie. So I guess you could say this oe was a warm up for me.

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Patti Abbott back and the rest of the Friday Forgotten Book posts
can be found at her blog Pattinaise

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8 Responses to Friday Forgotten Book: The Mysterious Affair at Styles

  1. Who’s reading it indeed. Chrisitie was a passion in my younger years, but I must say it’s been thirty-five + since I read one.

  2. Jeff Meyerson says:

    The last Christie I read was – let me check – a collection of shorts in 2003. I read STYLES during my first big Christie reading jag on November 11, 1971. We had our belated honeymoon in London that April and bought a couple of Christies more or less at random – the good Marple, THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY, and the late Poirot, THE CLOCKS. It was in November, however, that I started reading her (and other mysteries) in earnest, and since STYLES was her first (and available) it was the first one I read. I read three in November, another dozen in December, 13 more in January and 7 in February.

  3. I’ve been reading Christies before their PBS versions air. I’ve read most of Christie’s major mysteries so now I’m down to her second-rank stuff.

  4. I’ve only read one Christie book in my life. I should definitely read more.

  5. John says:

    I still love the trick she uses with a piece of furniture in this book. So damn clever. A trick I might add she managed to recycle in a variety of ways over her long writing career. Vive la Christie! I’m going to be re-reading THE HOLLOW and a few others I’ve forgotten the plots to later this year.

  6. Roger says:

    ‘Forgotten Book: The Mysterious Affair at Styles’

    A new and previously-unrecorded meaning of forgotten, no doubt.

  7. Carl V. says:

    I have yet to physically “read” an Agatha Christie novel, but have listened to several audio versions including many Poirots and one or two Marples. Good stuff. I have yet to be disappointed by Christie’s work. She’s got that special something that appeals to me in many ways. I enjoy her characters, love the settings and time period, and try as I might I never figure out whodunnit. I think my favorite Christie work of late is the short story collection, The Mysterious Mr. Quinn. The short stories are slightly interrelated with two characters who appear in each story. Great fun. Poirot-esque with some supernatural stuff around the edges.

  8. Richard says:

    Roger – as I said, “Certainly not forgotten, but then who has read it any time at all recently?

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