The Mysterious Affair at Styles is Agatha Christie's first published novel and introduces readers to her famous hero, Hercules Poirot, along with a couple of his stalwart sidekicks, Detective Chief Inspector James Japp and Captain Arthur Hastings, who narrates.
Hastings – who fancies himself an amateur sleuth – happens to be visiting friends at Styles Court, their English country manor, when a mysterious death occurs. His friend Poirot, a WWI refugee from Belgium, happens to be billeted in the local village, et voilà, the two join forces to unravel the complicated mystery. With a dead matriarch, her shady younger husband, two step-sons, various dependants and family retainers, the enticing wife of a neighboring farmer, and assorted villagers, there are plenty of possible suspects.
At times, the long story gets a little too complicated, with red herrings swimming all over the place and clues overlapping every which way. But there are a few very good twists, some clever scenes, and many funny bits. The book proves Christie a master of the genre from the get go.
dog eared copy
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This was the first book I read for the 2012 Vintage Mystery Challenge hosted by Bev at My Reader's Block.