From the mind of the great Agatha Christie sprang one of her most intriguing characters-Belgian detective Inspector Hercule Poirot. His exploits have been chronicled, not only in the author’s books, but also in numerous movies and television specials. In more than one episode, the popular show Doctor Who pays homage to the iconic writer, including a “behind the scenes” of Dame Agatha’s process for this particular novel.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles opens as Poirot’s Watson, Hastings, is staying with old friends while he recovers from injuries suffered fighting in World War I. He has not seen Poirot in a number of years, but he is suddenly on the scene when Hasting’s host at the estate of Styles is murdered under strange circumstances.
A number of doors locked from the inside, a house full of potential suspects, several different possible methods for administering poison to the victim, and questionable identities of multiple personages make for a case that is beyond the local constabulary, so Poirot is soon on the scene.
While Hastings privately worries that age and time have cost Poirot his sharp faculties, the detective begins his investigation, leaving Hastings (and everyone else) wondering what clues he has discovered but is reluctant to share. The story ends with a typical confrontation that unites all suspects, and those previously not suspected, in a scene where Poirot reveals all.
Agatha Christie’s body of work in general and in this novel in particular are considered classics because her stories are ageless. While technology and society move forward, the mysteries she pens still appeal to readers because she weaves so many details, false blinds, and seemingly contradictory plot points into her work that are perfectly explained in the end.
I recommend this book to any lover of mysteries, and award it five stars for its originality, and depth of intrigue.