eBook Classics: 'The Mysterious Affair at Styles'
Published on Thursday, September 13, 2012 - 3:25pm
While The Mysterious Affair at Styles may be the first novel from Agatha Christie (and one that was written to settle a bet that the author could not compose a story in which the reader could not identify the killer), it does not read like an amateur writer's work. While Christie sets the story in a country mansion, a favorite location of detective writers, she does not rely on any tired devices or cliches in her first round of fiction.
In her first novel, Christie introduces her most popular and endearing character, the prim and proper Hercule Poirot. While some characters (including the narrator) regard Poirot as having somewhat diminished abilities due to his age, Poirot seems like he has not lost a step in his deductive reasoning, and is even clever enough to play the impression that he has "lost it" to his advantage. Poirot possesses enough quirky characteristics and a more than ample mind that it is no surprise that Christie revisits his character in many future stories.
Agatha Christie succeeds in her goal to write a detective novel in which the reader cannot "spot" the murderer, despite the fact that they are privy to all the same clues as master detective Hercule Poirot. There are no great leaps of faith or hidden clues in this story; rather, one simply has to wade through the clues and the purposeful misdirection, just like a real detective, in order to solve the case. Almost all of the characters in the novel have a motive (most driven by greed), and none of them are afraid to level accusations, with some being more valid than others. The solution to this riddle will delight fans of detective fiction, whether they are new to the game, or revisiting old favorites.
Classic titles like this one are available for download on the DC Public Library’s electronic catalog. If you are looking for more classic titles to grace your e-reader, just look for entries in our catalog that are marked “always available,” and choose your borrowing period of 7, 14, or 21 days.