At long last, I was able to begin and finish reading Agatha Christie’s first published novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. This title also introduces Hercule Poirot, Christie’s detective hero, for the first time.
Speaking of “first times”, this is the first detective/mystery novel that I read on my smartphone. Yup, I’m warming up to the idea of e-books and e-book readers. It’s so convenient and not-so-tacky-looking. Thanks to the PDF format of my copy of The Mysterious Affair at Styles and the document reader feature of my smartphone, I was able to finish the novel by reading it everywhere I went. It’s a totally time-efficient option, considering that I’ve had this novel since September 2010! O.o
The setting is, obviously, at Styles Court, a manor in Essex county. It revolves around Emily Cavendish (a widow), John and Lawrence Cavendish (her stepsons), Alfred Inglethorp (her new and younger husband), and Mary Cavendish (John’s wife). Also involved are Evelyn Murdoch (Emily’s assistant), Cynthia Murdoch (orphaned daughter of the Cavendishes’ friend), Dr Bauerstein (a toxicologist), and Dorcas (a maid).
Basically, there is an involvement of various wills in this story. John and Lawrence’s father vested John to inherit Styles Court as indicated in his will. Emily, on the other hand, would inherit his monetary possessions. This gives Emily her own prerogative to distribute the money as she sees fit, should she die, by indicating it on her own will. A handsome sum (indicated in Emily’s will) would go to John Cavendish, who is trying to make ends meet with his wife. However, Emily’s recent remarriage changes the legality of the recipients indicated in her will. Obviously, Emily’s new husband, Alfred, would be the new recipient of the money. Interesting plot for murder, isn’t it?
A Pleasure to Read
Having read later Hercule Poirot titles, I had to temporarily block all that I know about this brilliant detective and act like I’m being introduced to him for the first time. Because this is Poirot’s first appearance into the detective literary world, I have to keep things in perspective just to make it exciting. And once again, I was impressed by his deductive skills and use of the “little grey cells,” as he calls it.
Overall, it was a very satisfying read and I definitely recommend this to readers who’re interested in detective fiction. Also, if you happen to want to read on Hercule Poirot, I definitely recommend reading this novel first, before anything else. Of course, it’s always best to follow the chronological publication of a series of novels about a certain literary hero; although this may be impossible to do where book title availability is a concern.