The Mysterious Affair at Styles

This is the first novel featuring Hercule Poirot. I enjoyed it. You won’t be able to figure out everything before the end – I’d argue that there’s simply no way you can establish the true course of all events yourself, because you need to know stuff you cannot possibly be expected to know. Some crime stories are like that; I usually don’t particularly mind, but I found it just a little annoying this time because I spent more time while reading this book thinking about who might have done it, what had actually happened, who were lying about what, what had happened when, etc., than I did when I read the first couple of Christie books. But it’s not a big problem, and I should note that the added effort did mean that I got quite a few things right (or at least they were options I’d seriously considered). Some of the developments would probably have surprised me greatly if I’d read the book less carefully – I was still surprised a few times, but you’re supposed to be when reading a story like this. All the pieces of the puzzle fall into place at the end, which is more important to me than is the question of whether it’s possible to ‘crack the case’ on your own – some of the ‘suspicious behaviours’ you encounter have quite plausible explanations, and if you think about matters along the way some of these explanations will occur to you as well.

Overall an enjoyable read. I gave it 4 stars on goodreads, where the average rating is 3.94.

July 25, 2013 - Posted by | Books


  1. I’ve read more than half of the crime mystery books she’s written, and I found that over time, I’ve been able to guess correctly, with a few exceptions, who the criminal is quite early on. She almost always uses the same formula. It’s especially easier for the Miss Marple mysteries.

    Comment by Nia Nymue | July 26, 2013 | Reply

    • Guessing is not the same as detecting.

      Comment by Miao | July 26, 2013 | Reply

      • Of course not. I haven’t got all the details, but using a certain formula repeatedly took away much (if not all) of the surprise that I had looked forward to.

        Comment by Nia Nymue | July 26, 2013

  2. @Nia: There is no ‘reply’ button to your last comment, so I will just start a new comment thread. I agree that there are some recurring tropes in Christie’s stories — I have actually commented on this to the author of this blog before — but I don’t think there was any one standard formula that she employed. Usually she utilised these tropes in various interesting permutations, so it is still not easy to detect the real culprit. You might get a hunch on who the guilty party is, but it is another matter to actually work out the details so that all the puzzle pieces fit together. As I have mentioned to the author of this blog, Christie’s works in her later years also show signs of deterioration due to Alzheimer’s. I usually avoid her thriller-ish books as well, but her best works are very clever, notwithstanding the (occasional) appearance of tropes.

    Comment by Miao | July 26, 2013 | Reply

    • (As for the no reply button thing; there’s a ‘reply’ button next to your own comment above Nia’s last one. If you’d clicked that one and left a comment, that comment would I believe have posted below Nia’s in the same section of the thread.)

      Comment by US | July 27, 2013 | Reply

      • Yes, but it wouldn’t be indented. But I guess that is just a cosmetic issue. 🙂

        Comment by Miao | July 27, 2013

      • This comment is a reply to my own comment, not yours, because no reply button shows below your comment. It’d be as indented as this comment is.

        But yeah, either way it’s just cosmetics. I don’t know if I can do something to change it so that this is not an issue, but I’m not going to waste time trying to find out.

        Comment by US | July 27, 2013

      • What I mean is that it will not be indented below your comment. 🙂

        Comment by Miao | July 27, 2013

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