Just when you think Agatha Christie’s books got old… she surprises you–practically arches one of her perfect eyebrows up–and, with a slightly devilish grin, triumphantly yells, ‘Ha! As if!’
..Leaving you staring after her awesomeness with your jaw practically passing out on the floor…
Hullo wonderful people!
Alright, dramatic reactions aside, let’s get on with the review and see what the back of the book has to say.
Agatha Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was the result of a dare from her sister Madge who challenged her to write a story.
The story begins when Captain Hastings is sent back to England from the First World War due to injury and is invited to spend his sick leave at the beautiful Styles Court by his old friend John Cavendish. Here, Hastings meets John’s step-mother, Mrs Inglethorpe, and her new husband, Alfred. Despite the tranquil surroundings Hastings begins to realise that all is not right. When Mrs Inglethorpe is found poisoned, suspicion falls on the family, and another old friend, Hercule Poirot, is invited to investigate.
Now I know what you’re probably thinking right now is something along the lines of, ‘Hey mate, that sounds like a perfectly ordinary novel; what’re the theatrics up there for then?’
If you haven’t read anything by Agatha Christie before, I ought to tell you here and now that her books (or the few that I’ve read by her, at least) have this completely mystic aura about them, and maybe it’s the writing style, or perhaps it’s the tone, voice, soul or even spirit in between the pages; but there’s something that just gets you glued to the pages right away.
“You gave too much rein to your imagination. Imagination is a good servant, and a bad master. The simplest explanation is always the most likely.”
So I get that the plot sounds completely ordinary and perhaps even a little mundane for a lot of you, but to a mystery-loving ranter like yours truly here, this was everything. It was my first-ever Hercule Poirot novel, and I have to say, I was certainly not disappointed.
I guess a part of me was comparing Sherlock Holmes with Hercule Poirot in some subconscious way or another. (In case you don’t know– Sherlock Holmes is a fictional famous detective starring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels (also Benedict Cumberbatch on BBC’s Sherlock, if you want a modern introduction); he also happens to be one of the greater loves of my life). So with two great detectives right there, I apparently had to compare them and see who does what better where.
Nope, don’t compare them, please.
“Sometimes I feel sure he is as mad as a hatter and then, just as he is at his maddest, I find there is a method in his madness.”
Poirot is a great little thing. And I don’t mean great in the Sherlock-Holmes-is-great sense; I mean he’s a wonderfully funny, comical and real character who’s surprisingly bubbly for someone so shrouded in mystery. I have noticed that throughout the entire novel, he spoke only with ambiguous wordings, literally making even the simplest facts seem doubtful. Because for some reason or the other, you think that maybe he’s lost a bit of his marbles with all the crazy cases he had to deal with, but oh boy is that man a genius. A genius so very mundane that it’s a tad intimidating how he doesn’t look or even appear it.
“Every murderer is probably somebody’s old friend,” observed Poirot philosophically. “You cannot mix up sentiment and reason.”
Christie’s novel, despite being a crime classic, was surprisingly breezy, humorous, and such an easy read. I guess what’s so impressive about her novels is that the amount of simplicity in them make them so amazingly crafted and complex that it kind of knocks you out and takes your breath away by the end. Her mystery was intriguing, definitely maddening and utterly amazing.
I know I have basically showered the book with compliments that seem out of place with a plot so simple, but this lady was not entitled the Queen of Crime for nothing, you guys. True, the way I felt kind of dumbfounded by the end wasn’t very flattering for neither me or poor Hastings (it’s written from his POV), but what can I say, I just love a challenging mystery. And this one? This one was definitely one.
What about you? Read any mysteries lately? Will you give this one a go? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear all about it!
Loads of love,
Midnight Ranter (aka Ayaka)