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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant debut
Agatha Christie's first novel, written in 1916 during World War 1, set the pattern for many of her classic books - it is told in the first person by Hastings, set in a large, isolated country manor, has half-dozen suspects, most hiding secrets from their past, and the plot teases us with surprise twists and red herrings. It met with critical acclaim for its ingenuity and...
Published 13 months ago by Aletheuon

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The mysterious affair of the coffee cups
Spoilers! I really enjoyed this Poirot story once I'd got into it. It was Christie's first book and the scene in the hospital dispensary is an added interest since it mirrors the author's own life.
There are real frustrations however. It's supposed to be the First World War yet there are lots of people either loafing around or arranging cushions for rich Mrs...
Published 18 months ago by T. Bently


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant debut, 1 April 2014
By 
Aletheuon (Wales UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Agatha Christie's first novel, written in 1916 during World War 1, set the pattern for many of her classic books - it is told in the first person by Hastings, set in a large, isolated country manor, has half-dozen suspects, most hiding secrets from their past, and the plot teases us with surprise twists and red herrings. It met with critical acclaim for its ingenuity and plotting and for Christie's knowledge of drugs.
Hercule Poirot, Inspector Japp, and Arthur Hastings are all introduced in this book. Poirot is a Belgian refugee who, helped by Emily Cavendish, sets up home near her, in England. Hastings, an old friend, arrives as her guest. When she is murdered, Poirot demonstrates that he is a skilled detective by solving the mystery. The main suspect is her new and much-younger husband, Alfred Inglethorpe, but it emerges that the evidence against him is contrived. He is, it seems, hated by Evelyn Howard, Emily's paid companion and disliked and mistrusted by her children and the rest of the household. Who would fabricate evidence against him?
This was widely recognised as a very good first novel and, of course, Agatha Christie went on to a sixty year career as a detective story writer. She wasn't the world's greatest literary writer but her plots and her two famous detectives, Poirot and Miss Marple, kept people hungry for more. Her books translate very well to the screen, showing how strongly structured her stories are and how good her characterisation. To be absolutely honest, I prefer the television adaptations of her books to the books themselves, which may just prove that I am a Philistine. However, this is a very good detective novel for its time.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SIMPLY THE BEST, 16 Dec. 2002
This review is from: The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Poirot) (Paperback)
After reading many of Agatha's books before, i was expecting this to be just as enthralling. But as the first book she ever wrote, i found it to be the best i have ever read. Meticulous Hercule Poirot is at his finest along with sidekick Hastings and the plots and twists of the book are simply brilliant; Christie is a genius. The only downside to the book is the slightly slow beginning but after the first few chapters i guarantee you won't be able to put it down! I gave it to my mum to read and she's been hooked on Agatha Christie ever since! A good read for young and old fans alike.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hercule Poirot's first appearance, 17 Feb. 2011
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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This is the first book featuring Hercule Poirot and very good it is too. Hastings is invited to stay in the country with his friend John and is pleased to discover Poirot staying nearby. John's step-mother is murdered and Hastings suggests that Poirot should investigate. There are plenty of suspects and more than enough motives and the twists and turns in the plot will keep even the most observant reader guessing until almost the last page.

I liked the characters and the dialogue and there are plenty of clues and red herrings to divert suspicion. I'm never sure whether I like Poirot himself but I did enjoy this story which is probably one of the best examples of the classic detective novel. There is no violence or graphic descriptions of battered corpses. The victim is poisoned and the plot hinges on who could have obtained the poison and who had the opportunity and motive to administer the poison.

If you have not read any of Agatha Christie's plentiful output then this book - her first published - would be a good place to start.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Opens the Golden Age of Detective Fiction., 25 Sept. 2003
By 
John Austin "austinjr@bigpond.net.au" (Kangaroo Ground, Australia) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Poirot) (Paperback)
Thirty-year old Mrs Agatha Christie turned a nice little profit with this, her first book, in 1920. It introduced Hercule Poirot. Wisely, she gave him many flamboyant, eccentric characteristics to leaven the depiction of detection work, but unwisely she created a character of advanced age that she subsequently needed to preserve for a further fifty years.
What became the regular Christie recipe for a whodunit is found here. Perhaps there is a tad more reliance on the dispensing of medicines, reflecting the author's occupation during World War One. A formula that she later discarded was the use of a narrator - Hastings - who presents one of the "cases" on his friend Poirot. 1920 and the publication of this book marked the opening of the "Golden Age of Detective Fiction". Expect that there are plenty of servants, plenty of drinks at bedtime, much making and re-making of wills, and characters - including Poirot - who walk everywhere.
This rates highly in the Christie collection for classic charm, readability and ingenuity. Few of her books from the 1920s excel it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant debut, 23 Oct. 2014
By 
Aletheuon (Wales UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Agatha Christie's first novel, written in 1916 during World War 1, set the pattern for many of her classic books - it is told in the first person by Hastings, set in a large, isolated country manor, has half-dozen suspects, most hiding secrets from their past, and the plot teases us with surprise twists and red herrings. It met with critical acclaim for its ingenuity and plotting and for Christie's knowledge of drugs.
Hercule Poirot, Inspector Japp, and Arthur Hastings are all introduced in this book. Poirot is a Belgian refugee who, helped by Emily Cavendish, sets up home near her, in England. Hastings, an old friend, arrives as her guest. When she is murdered, Poirot demonstrates that he is a skilled detective by solving the mystery. The main suspect is her new and much-younger husband, Alfred Inglethorpe, but it emerges that the evidence against him is contrived. He is, it seems, hated by Evelyn Howard, Emily's paid companion and disliked and mistrusted by her children and the rest of the household. Who would fabricate evidence against him?
This was widely recognised as a very good first novel and, of course, Agatha Christie went on to a sixty year career as a detective story writer. She wasn't the world's greatest literary writer but her plots and her two famous detectives, Poirot and Miss Marple, kept people hungry for more. Her books translate very well to the screen, showing how strongly structured her stories are and how good her characterisation. To be absolutely honest, I prefer the television adaptations of her books to the books themselves, which may just prove that I am a Philistine. However, this is a very good detective novel for its time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant debut, 23 Oct. 2014
By 
Aletheuon (Wales UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Agatha Christie's first novel, written in 1916 during World War 1, set the pattern for many of her classic books - it is told in the first person by Hastings, set in a large, isolated country manor, has half-dozen suspects, most hiding secrets from their past, and the plot teases us with surprise twists and red herrings. It met with critical acclaim for its ingenuity and plotting and for Christie's knowledge of drugs.
Hercule Poirot, Inspector Japp, and Arthur Hastings are all introduced in this book. Poirot is a Belgian refugee who, helped by Emily Cavendish, sets up home near her, in England. Hastings, an old friend, arrives as her guest. When she is murdered, Poirot demonstrates that he is a skilled detective by solving the mystery. The main suspect is her new and much-younger husband, Alfred Inglethorpe, but it emerges that the evidence against him is contrived. He is, it seems, hated by Evelyn Howard, Emily's paid companion and disliked and mistrusted by her children and the rest of the household. Who would fabricate evidence against him?
This was widely recognised as a very good first novel and, of course, Agatha Christie went on to a sixty year career as a detective story writer. She wasn't the world's greatest literary writer but her plots and her two famous detectives, Poirot and Miss Marple, kept people hungry for more. Her books translate very well to the screen, showing how strongly structured her stories are and how good her characterisation. To be absolutely honest, I prefer the television adaptations of her books to the books themselves, which may just prove that I am a Philistine. However, this is a very good detective novel for its time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Original Styles, 1 Oct. 2010
By 
D. J. H. Thorn "davethorn13" (Hull, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Poirot) (Paperback)
Agatha Christie's first published novel also introduces her most famous creation, Hercule Poirot, who appears in nearly forty of her books. What I found especially interesting was how she portrayed him at the beginning of her career, given that new characters tend not to be fully developed. Poirot, it turns out, is almost the finished article. There is one odd moment when, having learned something which helps his investigation, he takes to skipping with excitement down the road. This is out of character, not so much because he is supposed to be rather elderly as because it does not fit in with his usual conceit. As far as I am aware, he never behaves like that again.

As for the story, it establishes Christie's stock in trade: a country house murder in which the main protagonists are drawn from the upper classes. The solution is also typical, being tidy and ingenious, although there is one aspect of it which I feel lacks credibility. Naturally, I will not reveal what it is.

Christie is often attacked, with some justification, for samey characterisation. There is evidence in her early novels, however, that she worked harder on this area, probably because she was not established. In this novel, as well as the memorable Poirot and his incurably romantic companion, Hastings, Christie defines her main characters markedly with gestures and speech patterns. I think this is a sturdy, largely satisfying first novel, although many better ones were to come.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The red herrings go a touch too far, 3 Dec. 2009
By 
Jim J-R (West Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Poirot) (Paperback)
The very first novel in Christie's Poirot series serves as an excellent introduction to the Belgian detective and his extraordinary investigative skills. A suspicious death occurs in the family with whom narrator Captain Hastings is staying, and by happy coincidence his old detective friend is also staying in the village and able to investigate.

Like usual, coincidence plays a big part in the set up - getting the detective in place, but the rest of the story unfolds with genius. Poirot carefully peels back the layers of mystery, remarkably leading Hastings and the reader through every step. Each discovery that Poirot makes the reader think Aha! but still Christie leaves you unable to work it ot until the very end.

It does however follow the traditional Christie formula of upper class toffery, set mainly in the family mansion, with an over abundance of characters, any of whom could be the killer. But when Poirot finally explains all, it is clear that he is correct - all of the clues have been there to see all along.

My one major gripe with this novel is that in one case the red herrings went too far, to the point where the reader is absolutely convinced that one suspect is guilty, only to have it all turned on its head - I found this a little annoying, and would have preferred to have been left with an open mind.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever plotting, solved by Poirot, 4 Aug. 2014
This is the first of Christie’s books featuring Hercule Poirot. The plot is about a family living in a country home, with guests invited - including the narrator, Hastings.

A murder happens, and nearly all the household come under suspicion for various good reasons. It’s really a very clever plot; even as the clues gradually unravelled I could not recall who the murderer was, despite having read the book about thirteen years previously, and I was taken in by several red herrings, even while realising that the narrator must inevitably be on the wrong track, one way or another.

When the perpetrator was finally revealed, it all made sense, and the clues fell into place perfectly; Agatha Christie was brilliant at plotting, filling in all the details and leading her readers astray without ever making them feel cheated.

While the characterisation isn’t great - it’s my one problem with this author - I did appreciate good writing and tight plotting, a pleasant contrast to some of the more contemporary books I have been reading recently.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The start of Poirot and Hastings' partnership, 23 Feb. 2012
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
In this first of the Poirot/Hastings series we meet Poirot as a refugee from Belgium during the first world war. Hastings is staying at the 'big house' and the two are drawn into the mystery of a death by poisoning.

This is vintage Christie, complete with thwarted love affairs, red herrings galore and Poirot's 'little ideas'. Inspector Japp also gets a walk-on role. It's fun to see the start of what become such iconic figures: certainly Hastings' blindness and clumsy feelings for the female sex are the source of much amusement in this book, but become tempered as the series progresses.

This is a wonderfully nostalgic read, and I still don't think anyone does the classic murder mystery puzzle better than Christie. With its wit, unconscious social commentary and plotting that could teach quite a few contemporary authors how to do it, this may not be Christie's best, but it's very good indeed.
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The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Poirot)
The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Poirot) by Agatha Christie (Paperback - 3 Sept. 2007)
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