Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot, #1)
The heiress of Styles has been murdered, dying in agony from strychnine slipped into her coffee. And there are plenty who would gain from her death: the financially strapped stepson, the gold digging younger husband, and an embittered daughter-in-law. Agatha Christie's eccentric and hugely popular detective, Hercule Poirot, was introduced to the world in this book, which launched her career as the most famous and best loved of all mystery writers.

My take: 3 looks
I have to start by pointing out that this was written in 1920, and that is worth at least 1/2 look in itself. This is the first story of many for Hercule Poirot, and that is worth another 1/2 look. With that said, the superb writing of this one pulled it from 2 looks to 3 looks, in my opinion.

This is the second Agatha Christie book I have read. I can't believe I have gone through 46 years of life, and 40 of reading, where I have read only two Christie books. The first, And Then There Were None, was superb in every way. It was suspenseful, intriguing, thrilling and kept me guessing until the very end. Wonderful!

Mysterious Affair was extremely well written, but I got so bogged down at the ending explanation of the murder, my head was fairly spinning. I just felt that it didn't have to be so ... complicated. It really served to put a negative spin on the rest of the book. Writing = 4 looks, overall story and resolution = 2 looks, average is 3 looks.

Some of my favorites:
  • It struck me that he might look natural on a stage, but was strangely out of place in real life.
  • From the very first I took a firm and rooted dislike to him, and I flatter myself that my first judgments are usually fairly shrewd.
  • A "man of method" was, in Poirot's estimation, the highest praise that could be bestowed on any individual.
  • You gave too much rein to your imagination. Imagination is a good servant, and a bad master. The simplest explanation is always the most likely.

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