How to Solve The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
If you’re a fan of mystery and crime fiction, you’ve probably heard of Agatha Christie, the best-selling author of all time. She wrote over 60 novels and 14 short story collections, featuring memorable characters like Miss Marple, Tommy and Tuppence, and of course, Hercule Poirot
But do you know which book started it all? It was The Mysterious Affair at Styles, published in 1920. This was the first novel that introduced Poirot, the Belgian detective with a brilliant mind and a distinctive moustache. It was also the first novel that Christie wrote, inspired by a bet from her sister who challenged her to write a detective story that would stump the reader
The Mysterious Affair at Styles is set in England during the First World War, at a country estate called Styles Court. The owner of the house, Emily Inglethorp, is a wealthy widow who has recently married a much younger man, Alfred Inglethorp. Her family and friends are not happy with her choice, and suspect that Alfred is after her money. When Emily is found dead in her locked bedroom, poisoned by strychnine, everyone becomes a suspect
Luckily, one of the guests at Styles is an old friend of Poirot, Captain Arthur Hastings. He invites Poirot to investigate the case, and together they try to find out who killed Emily Inglethorp, and why. Along the way, they encounter clues, red herrings, twists, and surprises that will keep you guessing until the end.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles is a classic example of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, a period between the two world wars when writers like Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham, and others created complex puzzles for their readers to solve. The book follows the rules of fair play, meaning that all the clues are given to the reader, and the solution is logical and plausible. It also features some of the elements that have become iconic of the genre: a secluded country house, a closed circle of suspects, a locked-room mystery, and a brilliant detective with a quirky personality.
But how can you solve The Mysterious Affair at Styles before Poirot does? Is it possible to beat him at his own game? In this article, we’ll give you some tips and tricks on how to crack the case, and what to look for when reading this book. We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions about the book, and tell you why it’s still worth reading today.
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How to Solve The Mysterious Affair at Styles
If you want to solve The Mysterious Affair at Styles by yourself, you’ll need to pay attention to some key points:
- The timeline of events: When did Emily Inglethorp die? When was she last seen alive? Who was with her? Where were the other suspects at the time of her death? How long did it take for Poirot and Hastings to arrive at the scene? These questions will help you narrow down the list of possible culprits.
- The cause of death: How was Emily Inglethorp poisoned? What kind of poison was used? Where did it come from? How was it administered? Who had access to it? How did it affect her symptoms? These questions will help you identify the murder weapon and method.
- The motive: Why was Emily Inglethorp killed? Who had a reason to want her dead? What was their relationship with her? Did they stand to gain anything from her death? Did they have any conflicts or secrets with her? These questions will help you understand the psychology of the killer.
- The clues: What evidence did Poirot find at the crime scene? What did he learn from interviewing the suspects and witnesses? What did he notice that others missed? What did he deduce from his observations? These questions will help you follow his reasoning and logic.
To solve The Mysterious Affair at Styles, you’ll need to combine all these elements and find the one solution that fits them all. You’ll also need to avoid being misled by false clues or assumptions that might lead you astray. Remember that Christie was very clever at hiding the truth in plain sight, and that sometimes the simplest explanation is the most likely.
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Here are some common questions that readers might have about The Mysterious Affair at Styles:
- Q: Who is Hercule Poirot?
- A: Hercule Poirot is a fictional detective created by Agatha Christie. He is one of the most famous and popular characters in literature, and has appeared in 33 novels and 51 short stories. He is a Belgian refugee who settled in England after the First World War, and became a private detective. He is known for his eccentric habits, his impeccable manners, his neat appearance, and his magnificent moustache. He is also famous for his use of the “little grey cells”, his method of solving crimes by using his intelligence and intuition rather than physical evidence.
- Q: How did Agatha Christie come up with the idea for The Mysterious Affair at Styles?
- A: Agatha Christie wrote The Mysterious Affair at Styles in 1916, while she was working as a nurse at a hospital in Torquay, England. She had a keen interest in poisons, which she learned from her work at the dispensary. She also had a fascination with detective stories, especially those by Arthur Conan Doyle and Gaston Leroux. She decided to write her own detective novel as a challenge from her sister Madge, who bet her that she couldn’t write a story that would fool the reader. She chose to set the story in a country house, which she based on her childhood home in Ashfield. She also decided to create a Belgian detective, inspired by the refugees she met during the war. She named him Hercule Poirot, after two other fictional detectives: Hercule Popeau by Marie Belloc Lowndes, and Monsieur Poiret by Frank Howel Evans.
- Q: How was The Mysterious Affair at Styles received by critics and readers?
- A: The Mysterious Affair at Styles was first published in the US in 1920, and in the UK in 1921. It received positive reviews from critics and readers, who praised Christie’s skillful plot, original characters, and clever solution. The book was also a commercial success, selling well and earning Christie a good income. It established her reputation as a writer of detective fiction, and launched her long and prolific career.
- Q: Why is The Mysterious Affair at Styles still relevant today?
- A: The Mysterious Affair at Styles is still relevant today because it is a timeless story that appeals to readers of all ages and backgrounds. It is a classic example of the whodunit genre, which has never lost its popularity or charm. It is also a historical document that reflects the social and cultural changes that occurred during and after the First World War. It shows how people coped with the trauma and loss of the war, how they adapted to new technologies and lifestyles, how they dealt with issues of class, gender, and nationality, and how they searched for meaning and justice in a chaotic world. The book also introduces one of the most iconic and beloved characters in literature, Hercule Poirot, who has inspired countless adaptations and imitations over the years. The book is a testament to Christie’s genius and creativity, and a tribute to her love of mystery and storytelling.
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The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie is a masterpiece of mystery fiction that deserves to be read and enjoyed by everyone who loves a good puzzle. It is the first novel that features Hercule Poirot, one of the greatest detectives of all time. It is also the first novel that Christie wrote, proving her talent and potential as a writer. It is a book that will challenge your mind, entertain your imagination, and surprise you with its twists and turns.
If you want to solve The Mysterious Affair at Styles before Poirot does, you’ll need to pay attention to the details, follow the clues, avoid the traps, and use your logic and intuition. But don’t worry if you can’t figure it out; Poirot will reveal everything in the end.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your copy of The Mysterious Affair at Styles today, and join Poirot and Hastings on their first adventure together!
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