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March 8, 2020

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Agatha House 9


How nice would it be to take a rest and recover after an injury at an old friend’s beautiful country estate? That sounds relaxing to me. But what if you knew accepting such an invitation would involve you in a murder? If you were Arthur Hastings, friend of Hercule Poirot, you most certainly would be involved.

It is Hastings that brings Poirot, and us the reader, to Styles Court. Hastings’s days of relaxation are cut short when his hostess, Emily Inglethorp, is murdered in her bedroom. John Cavendish, Hastings’s friend and the step-son of the victim, is only one of many suspects.

I won’t spoil the outcome for you, but the story, in my opinion, is well plotted and the characters come to life giving us, the reader, a true sense of  time and place. Each character is presented in a way that leads us to believe they must have committed the horrendous crime, but then they are quickly exonerated only to be cast in the light of guilt once again. Though I’d read this mystery before, I had forgotten who had committed the murder and enjoyed being surprised at the end.

Hercule Poirot is an interesting character who is uniquely and completely sketched out. His egg-shaped head and tiny, neatly trimmed mustache are firmly planted in our own grey cells.  Albert Finney, Peter Ustinov, Ian Holm, Alfred Molina, John Malkovich and Kenneth Brannagh have all taken a turn playing the Belgian detective. My favorite will always be David Suchet. I believe his portrayal has been the most consistent with Christie’s character.

What did you think of The Mysterious Affair at Styles? Do you prefer the book to the film adaptation? Who is your favorite Poirot? Next week we will meet here again to discuss The Murder on the Links, Christie’s second Poirot mystery.