The Mysterious Affair at Styles


First published: 1920


  • Poison

A Hercule Poirot story


The Mysterious Affair at Styles

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Agatha Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was the result of a dare from her sister Madge who challenged her to write a story. The story begins when Hastings is sent back to England from the First World War due to injury and is invited to spend his sick leave at the beautiful Styles Court by his old friend John Cavendish. Here, Hastings meets John’s step-mother, Mrs Inglethorpe, and her new husband, Alfred. Despite the tranquil surroundings Hastings begins to realise that all is not right. When Mrs Inglethorpe is found poisoned, suspicion falls on the family, and another old friend, Hercule Poirot, is invited to investigate.

Imagination is a good servant, and a bad master. The simplest explanation is always the most likely.

Hercule Poirot

More about this story

Christie started writing the novel while she was volunteering in Torquay hospital dispensary during World War I. Her knowledge of medicines from this role resulted in poison naturally becoming the murder method used in her debut novel. After being rejected by six publishers, the manuscript for The Mysterious Affair at Styles was finally accepted by The Bodley Head four years after its completion.

The story was first adapted for television in 1990 and transmitted on ITV in the UK as a special episode to celebrate Agatha Christie’s centenary year. David Suchet starred as Hercule Poirot and Hugh Fraser as Hastings as part of the series Agatha Christie’s Poirot. In 2005 the novel was adapted as a five-part serial for BBC Radio 4 in the UK with John Moffatt playing the role of Hercule Poirot.

Though this may be the first published book of Miss Agatha Christie, she betrays the cunning of an old hand.
The New York Times Book Review

The dust jacket of the facsimile book edition references the legend of how Christie started writing: ‘This novel was originally written as the result of a bet, that the author, who had previously never written a book could not compose a detective novel in which the reader would not be able to ‘spot’ the murderer, though having access to the same clues as the detective.’

Will you be able to solve the mystery before Hercule Poirot does?

Did you know?

  1. It is in this first novel of Agatha Christie’s that we first encounter Hercule Poirot, who was inspired by the Belgian refugees from the First World War who had settled in her hometown of Torquay at the time it was written.

  2. Agatha Christie and her first husband Archie called their house Styles after The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

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Featured product

Styles: Hercule Poirot's First and Last Cases by Agatha Christie


Marking exactly 100 years since Agatha Christie wrote The Mysterious Affair at Styles, this special edition brings together the first Poirot novel with her last, and includes new cover paintings by Tom Adams, special introductions, and a unique letter from Hercule Poirot himself never before published in the UK.

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