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VINE VOICEon 22 May 2017
This is the very first Agatha Christie novel, written and set during the First World War, though not published until 1921. It is also the first Hercule Poirot novel, with the famous Belgian detective being a refugee in England having fled the invasion and subjugation of his country by the Kaiser's army. He is first described as follows:

"Poirot was an extraordinary-looking little man. He was hardly more than five feet four inches, but carried himself with great dignity. His head was exactly the shape of an egg, and he always perched it a little on one side. His moustache was very stiff and military. The neatness of his attire was almost incredible; I believe a speck of dust would have caused him more pain than a bullet wound."

Even on his first appearance, he is regarded by several characters as an old eccentric who is already past his prime). Nevertheless, he of course sees through a tortuous set of clues to solve a murder, the final resolution of which seemed even more than usually convoluted and, frankly, absurdly risky from the murderer's point of view. The narrative did not feel particularly dated to me, unlike the last Christie novel I read, the Tommy and Tuppence novel The Secret Adversary, set in the 1920s. One interesting touch in this edition is the inclusion as an appendix of an alternative penultimate chapter where the plot threads are resolved, discovered in one of Christie's notebooks decades later; though the essential difference rests only in its taking place in a courtroom where Poirot is being cross-examined, rather than in the Styles House with the detective doing his standard presentation in the drawing room in front of all the principal actors.
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on 27 February 2014
We’re all familiar with Agatha Christie’s little Belgian detective. His facial hair is recognisable to most, either from watching the many films or television adaptations, listening to radio plays or even reading the novels. The Mysterious Affair at Styles was Christie’s first published novel and where we meet Hercule Poirot.

I’m not new to the adventures of M. Poirot. My favourite adventures of his are Murder on the Orient Express and The ABC Murders. My mum is an avid Christie fan and I have been surrounded by such literature most of my life. How I had neglected to read this novel is puzzling. Nevertheless, I’m glad to have read this adventure.

The main focus of every story in the series is a murder. In this case it is Emily Inglethorp who is poisoned by someone at the estate of Styles. Is it her oddball husband who is disliked by the rest of the household, the doctor-turned poet stepson who stands to inherit a substantial amount of money, a toxicologist who is a friend of a lady of the house? The book is very good at keeping you guessing, throwing in a twist or new piece of information every few pages.

Captain Hastings narrates the story well, adding to the confusion by putting forward his own interpretations of situations. The characters are well described and developed and Christie has a knack for persuading you to feel certain ways about certain people, adding to the twists and turns of the plot.

I enjoyed this novel, not only as an instalment of one of my favourite crime franchises but as wonderful story in its own right. Anyone into crime and mystery needs to indulge in Poirot’s first adventure and relish the challenge and plot this novel presents.
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on 26 May 2015
Hastings has to rest after he is injured in the war so his old friend John Cavendish invites him to spend that time with him and his family at Styles their country home. However, there is tension in the house his stepmother has married again and nobody likes Alfred one bit. Then she is murdered, poisoned but who did it enter the amazing Hercule Poirot with his little grey cells to sort out the police before they make a big mistake.

Can Hercule save not only the day but a woman's love and will Hastings ever keep up the way Hercule grey cells work? This book will keep you guessing right up to the end when you go of course it was.
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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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on 4 October 2012
This is the first of Poirot's major cases and the first I read (reading them all in order due to having finished every Sherlock Holmes tale put out by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and needing a good substitute). As one would expect from a debut novel, the author had to set the scene and introduce characters. After the opening chapter, which is understandably slow due to the aforementioned scene-setting, the book is a non-stop page turner. I can honestly say I was hooked until the very end.

I only hope the rest of them will turn out to be so good.

If you are debating whether or not to buy it, just take a dive into the pool that is Agatha Christie's Poirot and be thankful you took the leap.
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on 25 January 2013
This is the first book Agatha Christie wrote and which we see Poirot. Set during the first world war, Hastings is inujured and ordered to recuperate. At the hospital where he is recovering, he meets John Cavendish a friend of his and is asked to stay with him at his home. During his stay there, Emily Inglethorpe is murdered and Hastings asks John if he can involve his friend Poirot who is staying in the village as a refugee.

Between Hastings and Poirot they set to business investigating "The Mysterious Affair at Styles".

A very good book and easy to read. Would recommend.
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on 15 December 2012
The Mysterious Affair at Styles is the first of Agatha Christie's popular Poirot novels. Set during the First World War, Lieutenant Hastings is sent home while recovering from an injury at the front and accepts an invitiation from an old friend to spend his leave at their country house. While there he meets up with a friend from Belgium who is in exile in Britain, a certain Monsiuer Poirot, and when the matriarch of the family is murdered, he enlists his old friend's help to solve the case.
This audio CD is read by Hugh Fraser (Captain Hastings) who has a wonderfully rich and smooth voice. He makes an excellent narrator, capable of delivering a multitiude of different voices and accents, including a credible version of Poirot himself.
I found this a highly enjoyable listen, and recommend it. The product and delivery were both up to Amazon's usual high standard.
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on 16 June 2017
It is so surprising that such good detective story should take as long as it did to be published, but of course, I'm in no position to judge the situation at the end of such a terrible war. However it won through and was greatly enjoyed.
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on 16 July 2017
I've previously read a Christmas Poirot and enjoyed it, so I thought I'd go with the first time he appeared. I enjoyed it a lot, a very good detective mystery. Lots of clues and evidence to help you try and solve it before Hercules little grey cells do.
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Poirot's first case and Christie had not perfected her style. At times the story rambles but there are flashes of genius, not least in the solution, and wonderful characterisation. It is difficult to use an unintelligent narrator and even harder to make the audience identify with him. Yet I felt sorry for Captain Hastings throughout.
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