Hastings is on leave from military service during World War 1. He is staying with an old acquaintance, John Kavendish, at the estate at Styles. It is not Kavendish’s house or property but that of his step-mother Emily Inglethorp who has proven to be a very generous benefactor of the war efforts. Also staying at Styles is Mary, John’s wife, Lawrence, John’s brother, Cynthia, the daughter of family friends whose parents recently passed, Dorcas, the maid, Evelyn, a friend of Emily’s, and most scandalously, Alfred, Emily’s new and much younger husband John. Did you follow all that? Because the characters will hit you fast and furious all in the first few chapters. That’s not even everyone.
Tragedy strikes quickly upon Hastings arrival at Styles when Emily dies in the throws of a seizing pain. Foul play is suspected and Hasting’s friend and famed international detective, Hercule Poirot, just happens to be in town and agrees to assist in the investigation into Emily’s death.
This is the first introduction of Poirot into literature and the start of many, many detective novels from Agatha Christie. Poirot is a much loved character around the world, and Christie’s works continue to be read and adapted in a myriad of media. All that being said, I hated this book. Okay, ‘hate’ may be too strong of a word. Very strongly and passionately disliked. I understand that it was written in a different time when popular styles of writing were very different. I still could not get over the fact that the entire book was so very boring.
We were told so much. Poirot and Hastings talked relentlessly about what had occurred and what it possibly meant. I understand that this is a detective novel about detective work, and it wouldn’t make sense for Christie to write about each and every thing happening as it is happening; she must write about discovering clues of past events and the subtle interpretations of those events, but this, to me, makes for a boring book.
Mystery/detective/Agatha Christie fans, please don’t run me out of town.