Book Review: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie #ReadWomenMarch

| On
March 31, 2016
#ReadWomenMarch is coming to an end! It’s been so much fun keeping my focus on badass lady authors writing about badass lady characters and I encourage everyone to give this kind of challenge a try and add more diversity to their reading life! There are so many amazing books out there!

For my last pick I went with a true and tried choice as I worked my way out of a reading slump. Who hasn’t heard of Agatha Christie, the Queen of Crime? This was only the second book of hers I’ve read and while it was fun and definitely got me out of that slump, it didn’t entirely convince me of the hype.

In The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Hastings tells us the tale of how, while he was staying at the village of Styles St. Mary visiting a friend and recovering from injury, the owner of the house, Mrs. Emily Ingelthorp, suddenly died of poisoning in the middle of the night.

The murder is baffling given that she had been alone since 8 the previous evening and every door leading to her room was found locked at the time of her death. With no shortage of suspects—from her new husband to her daughter-in-law—Hastings calls upon his good old friend, renowned detective Hercule Poirot, to shine some light on this mysterious crime.

This was a crime worthy of Sherlock Holmes and I think because of that, I found it a bit predictable and not at all shocking. Not to brag, but I think if Poirot had mentioned (however vaguely) all the clues instead of keeping them to himself to do the big reveal at the end, anyone could have solved the crime. He was purposefully misleading and it just made him seem like a braggy detective and not someone truly passionate about the art of deduction.

Or maybe I’m biased! I love Sherlock Holmes, his love for deductive reasoning and his influence in forensic science, so reading these types of crime novels are sometimes a hit or miss for me. You either get it right or you don’t, and Agatha Christie failed to keep me engaged in this mystery, and sometimes her decisions confused me. Why use fingerprint analysis for some things but not others? You could have saved yourself a lot of trouble!

Now, don’t get me wrong. I still enjoyed the book for what it was and even found it to be lots of fun. Poirot’s exuberance and dramatic flair made for a very entertaining time and I think if I keep reading Christie, it would be mainly to read more of his adventures. I just won’t go in expecting that mind-blowing “how did I not see this coming?” feeling that I hope to get every time I read murder mysteries.

The one thing that I really didn’t like at all was the character of Captain Hastings. I understand sometimes there has to be a character that needs things explained to them as they take the role of the audience that’s just as out of the loop*, but Agatha Christie just took this to the extreme, making Hastings come off as the dumbest man to ever exist. And he had hopes of becoming a detective himself? In what universe! It was irritating how slow he was because it forced Poirot to waste time explaining things that were so obvious, or worse: smirk and give him a metaphorical pat on the head while saying that everything would make sense in due time.

The crime itself was a real puzzle and fun to try to solve along with Poirot, I just feel like Christie’s writing failed to make it a true mystery, but I also realize that this was her very first novel and that alone says a lot. I cannot judge her entire body of work by her first book, so I look forward to picking up more of her stories and seeing how her writing progressed with practice and experience! 

I think The Mysterious Affair at Styles is a great introduction to the world of crime fiction and murder mysteries and nothing short of a light, fun read for those of us who have read our fair share in this genre. I personally didn’t hate it, but I didn’t walk out mind-blown like I was hoping I would!

If anyone has any suggestions on what Agatha Christie titles I should 100% read next, comment with them! The other title I own is Murder on the Orient Express, but I would like to know what others you consider definite MUST reads by the queen of crime!

* (The Watson, as explained by TV Tropes... funnily enough, they use Hastings as the prime example).

Be First to Post Comment !
Post a Comment

Klik the button below to show emoticons and the its code
Hide Emoticon
Show Emoticon