This was my first Agatha Christie book. I’ve always enjoyed murder/mysteries and detective stories, most especially Sherlock Holmes (I’m currently trying to read all of his novels and short stories in between the other books I’m reading). Knowing that, I realized, why have I never tried reading Agatha Christie’s books? I’ve heard nothing but good things about her work, so why have I never shown interest? So I remedied that.
From her website, I saw that they have a list of her books per series so I decided to start with the Hercule Poirot series, with the first book called “The Mysterious Affair At Styles.”
At first, it felt a lot like another Sherlock Holmes packaged differently – Sherlock Holmes as Hercule Poirot (a brilliant detective), John Watson as Hastings (the narrator and trusted side kick) and Lestrade as Inspector Japp. I must admit, at the beginning, I was put off by the fact that the dynamics felt a bit too familiar and similar to that of Sherlock Holmes and I couldn’t help but feel that it was a rip off of the Arthur Conan Doyle classic. However, after reading some background on Agatha Christie’s novels, apparently Hastings does not appear in all Poirot stories. I’m interested to see how those stories develop as opposed to this one. I understand that it’s unfair to judge Christie’s works based on just this one. So I look forward to reading her other novels and short stories. I might try a Miss Marple Mystery novel sometime soon.
Anyway, I can safely say that Poirot is such an endearing character as he has a certain comical warmth that sets him apart from Holmes. Both are obviously brilliant but that just really means their creators are at a league of their own. Hercule Poirot just exudes a different aura from Sherlock Holmes (in my mind, at least) that makes him more likeable as opposed to Sherlock Holmes’ more confident (or close to) arrogant brilliance.
Here’s the synopsis of The Mysterious Affair at Styles from Goodreads:
Who poisoned the wealthy Emily Inglethorpe, and how did the murderer penetrate and escape from her locked bedroom? Suspects abound in the quaint village of Styles St. Mary–from the heiress’s fawning new husband to her two stepsons, her volatile housekeeper, and a pretty nurse who works in a hospital dispensary. Making his unforgettable debut, the brilliant Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is on the case. The key to the success of this style of detective novel, writes Elizabeth George in her Introduction, lies in how the author deals with both the clues and the red herrings, and it has to be said that no one bettered Agatha Christie at this game.
This book introduced me to the term “red herring.” Being a lover of Murder/Mysteries and typical “Detective” stories, I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve come across such a term. But man, does this story have it. It was a true roller coaster and I was pleasantly surprised that this is something I have not felt so far in Sherlock Holmes’ stories. I have yet to complete the entire collection but so far, it hasn’t surprised me in its revelations as much as The Mysterious Affair at Styles did.
I would have to say that this was a brilliant introduction to the world of Hercule Poirot. Surely, this would not be my one and only Poirot book. Looking forward to the others and more.
NinthMelody rating: 9/10