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Monday, 17 August 2015

The Mysterious Affair at Styles - Agatha Christie

This is my first Agatha Christie book read since I was eleven, so I was very excited to get started. Thus, I started it on the train to London and finished it within a couple of evenings. Mainly it was to gain inspiration for a future Jeeves and Wooster fanfiction with a darker, murder-mystery theme (scandalous considering P.G. Wodehouse writes some of the cheeriest books around, right?), but also because I was craving more of that late 1910s-1920s thrill. Did it satisfy my current fascination? Yes, it did! From the first couple of chapters I was hooked, already inwardly blaming literally everyone for the death of Mrs Inglethorpe!

I wanted a story specifically with poison in it, which my Mother (being a avid Agatha Christie fan) helped me to find from her collection. Sadly she got rid of quite a lot of books, donating them to charity some time ago, so I couldn't find the first ever Agatha Christie book I read. Coincidentally, however, I think this was the first novel that Christie had published, so it was quite fitting.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles is set from Arthur Hasting's point of view, where we learn his inner thoughts about the murder case, who he suspects (namely the dark, mysterious Mr Inglethorpe that everyone loathes for some reason), and Poirot. Whilst Hastings was a bit of a disappointing, very predictable character to me - too much like a lot of young men in books during that era, falling in love quickly and proposing that instant, reminding me of Bingo Little! - I really, really like Poirot.

Poirot is the quick-witted, secretive (and somewhat cute for some odd reason - just read how Christie describes him!), slightly eccentric Belgian detective that never fails to unravel a mystery. He is a refugee of WW1 staying in an English cottage on Mrs Inglethorpe's property. I love his pedantic manners, the way he teases Hastings by not revealing his thoughts and methods, and how one tiny little thing doesn't escape his notice.
Another character I liked was Miss Howard. Her personality and mannerisms seemed very robust to me, and I like the way she communicated in short "telegram-like" sentences. 

After much twisting and turning, making me suspect almost everyone of the murder, it is solved by Poirot after some divine inspiration, and everyone gets their happy ending - except for poor Mrs Inglethorpe who died, the murderers, and Mr Hastings who was rejected by the girl he just met...
I'll be sure to read another Agatha Christie book sometime soon, as I loved it!

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