The Mysterious Affair at Styles – book club

The Mysterious Affair at Styles
by Agatha Christie
Release Date:  1920
Publisher: Amazon Classics (my copy)
Book #1 in the Hercule Poirot series
Number of Pages:  201
Source:  Amazon Purchase (free)
Rating:  PG
Read 4/17/18 to 4/21/18

As is my usual process for my book club posts, I will post my review and then post notes from the book club meeting so you can get other views on the story.  Here we go…

I’ve read some Agatha Christie in the past, but never any of the Hercule Poirot books.  I hadn’t realized this was not only the book to introduce Hercule Poirot, but also her first published book ever.  I also haven’t watched any of the PBS Hercule Poirot movies, but have seen pictures and still from them and knew who the character was before starting out.  While I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Poirot himself, the narrator was not a favorite of mine.  But as the story progressed, I realized how much Mr. Hastings brought a comic element to this story.

I can’t help, while ready any type of mystery, trying to figure it out as I read.  I’m sure that’s true for most people…it’s human nature.  While I flip-flopped on my belief of “who-dunnit” throughout the story, it really didn’t matter to me who the real criminal was.  The author writes in such a way that I can’t help but want to know more about each and every character, not just to try to figure out if they didn’t do it, but also to try to figure why they couldn’t be the one.

Ms. Christie lays it all out for the reader.  There really is all of the clues available to the reader that are available for those working the case.  What’s fun is knowing how Mr. Poirot puts it all together.  I love that he even admits to moments of doubt in his line of thinking.

As for Mr. Hastings, our narrator, the man thinks a bit too much of himself.  He’s not a bad man.  He’s not really egotistical, but he drastically overestimates his own brain power.  This is where he was a bit rubbing me the wrong way.  Yet, as I mentioned before, as the story progressed he somewhat became the comic relief.  The way Hercule Poirot would make statements to Mr. Hastings that were so over his head were really funny stuff.  I loved it!

I will admit that I forgot how much I enjoy a good Agatha Christie tale.  I’ll have to pick up more of her classics that I have yet to read.  Believe it or not, I have never read (or seen!) Murder on the Orient Express.  Maybe that should be on my list.

4 stars

We were a super small group for book club this time.  Just my mom, my Aunt Lynne (who was the hostess), and me.  We knew one member was going to be unavailable, but the other two had to bow out at the last-minute.  Since I hadn’t seen my mom and Aunt since my mother-in-law’s passing, we spent some time talking through that.  They both were very fond of her and had been great ears for her through the years.

As for the book, we all really enjoyed the story and the style of writing.  Although Agatha Christie wrote in the early 20th century and was English, her style and manner of speech in her stories in not stilted or confusing to our 21st century American ears.  In fact, we all agreed she has a great flow to her writing.  There are some word usages that are different from what we use now, but not so off that it was not understandable.

Everyone agreed with my assessment of Mr. Hastings and we actually had some great fun recounting some of the things Mr. Poirot said to him.  Lynne told me that the man who plays the character on the PBS specials is the perfect pick for the him and is a lot of fun to watch.  Now I’m going to have to see if any of them are on Netflix.

As for our guesses on the murderer, we all had different ideas and reasons.  It was actually entertaining to hear why we each thought of a certain character as a suspect while reading.

My Aunt Lynne, for her part, has already read four more Agatha Christie books since finishing this one, she was so enamored by her writing style and subjects.  Since she was the one that chose this story, I think she was pretty happy this was her pick and she rediscovered a favorite author.

We not only talked about this particular book, but some of her others.  I hadn’t read And Then There Were None since high school, but my Aunt reminded me of a few things in that story.  We then realized that Ms. Christie could very well be one of the first to fictionally write about serial killers, or those that kill with no reason or remorse.  She really was ahead of her time with some of her ideas.

I hope you all enjoyed the book as much as we did.  Liz will be our next host and we’ll be reading The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.  We don’t have an exact date for book club, but it will be at the end of June.  I’d love to hear from you and get your thoughts on any of our book club books.  If you read or have read The Snow Child and are curious how the members of my book club feels about anything in particular, please feel free to send me your questions and I’ll ask them.

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
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