Book Review: The Mysterious Affair at Styles

June 11, 2014 Book Review, Book Talk 4

Book Review: The Mysterious Affair at StylesThe Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Published by Simply Audiobooks on January, 2006/first published October, 1920
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 294
Source: Gift
Goodreads

 

I am a little late to the Agatha Christie party which is highly suspect as I’m all about a good mystery – whether in book form, television show or movie.  Give me a little murder in my media and I’m happy!

A little background – I’ve participated in World Book Night in the US since its inception and loved each year for various reasons.  This year, completely unexpected, Audiobooks.com donated an audiobook to the book givers.  It was such a wonderful and generous surprise and with my credit I immediately searched the available books.  I wanted my selection to be special, and as I’ve always heard Agatha Christie is the Duchess of Death, I chose The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

This novel introduces Belgian detective extraordinaire Hercule Poirot.  It should be noted that The Mysterious Affair at Styles was written during World War I when refugees had flooded England.  Such was what had led Inspector Poirot’s into England from his beloved Belgium.  He takes refuge near Styles Manor, home of Emily {Cavendish} Inglethorp.  His good friend Hastings arrives on leave from the War and solicits Poirot’s detecting skills when Emily is found dying from an apparent poisoning.

Every single character with the exception of Poirot has a motive and a means. . .Christie is adept at throwing in the red herrings and making each character appear suspect.  Emily solely inherited the Cavendish fortune when her husband passed away leaving his two grown sons dependent upon Emily’s generosity.  Then what does Emily do?  She up and marries a much younger man, Alfred Inglethorp, changes her will and conveniently instigates great turmoil with the Cavendish fortune when she up and dies.  Intrigue abounds as Hastings and Poirot begin to investigate Emily’s poisoning.

An issue that came up within The Mysterious Affair at Styles was the narrator Arthur Hastings.  After enlisting the help of his friend Poirot, Hastings questions everything Poirot says and does.  Another frustrating aspect was Christie’s disdain for her female characters.  For the time period in which this is written it is somewhat understandable that the female characters be written with a slant, but to the extent that the male characters overshadowed their female counterparts I found that to be a bit irritating.  It may just be that I’ve actively sought books with strong female characters and The Mysterious Affair at Styles was a throwback to a different time period.

I listened to this one with the thanks of Audiobooks.com narrated by Stan Winiarski.  I can still hear Winiarski’s unique pronunciation of Poirot – he was fabulous with just the right amount of inflection.  His accent made the book come alive and definitely kept my attention.

If you haven’t read Agatha Christie before then you should at least try one of her 200+ writings. If you’re a mystery fan at all Christie doesn’t disappoint with creating almost pretzel-like plot to keep the reader engaged. I’ve since listened to After the Funeral and The Murder at the Vicarage; more to come on these Christie novels!  Many Agatha Christie novels are available for free on the Project Gutenberg site including The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

Listening Time:  4 hours 31 minutes

4 Responses to “Book Review: The Mysterious Affair at Styles”

  1. guiltlessreading

    I’m so glad you’ve been initiated into the club! I am a huge Christie fan myself! So what else do you have on your list? You should read a Miss Marple book, Stacy!

  2. bermudaonion(Kathy)

    I’ve only read one of her books and really need to read more!

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