“Instinct is a marvelous thing. It can neither be explained nor ignored.”
The first novel in the Hercule Poirot series, The Mysterious Affair at Styles marks the beginning of the adventures of the famous detective. In my reading of Agatha Christie novels over the years I remember picking up this first Poirot and eventually setting it aside, unfinished. I simply could not get into the story. So, when I decided to tackle the full Poirot reading list, The Mysterious Affair at Styles was one I was not particularly excited to get to. However, upon reading it, I was actually pleasantly surprised to find that I liked it well enough. It is certainly not a favourite and I will likely not recall much of it down the line, but it was enjoyable enough to read in the moment. So, what is The Mysterious Affair at Styles?
The mysterious affair is the very mysterious death of Emily Inglethorp, a wealthy lady murdered in her locked bedroom. How did the killer enter and leave without any notice? There is no shortage of possible suspects but the circumstances are mysterious indeed. Enter Hercule Poirot, in his debut as the brilliant and oh so memorable detective.
The mystery drew me in and I was genuinely curious to see not only who committed the crime, but also how it played out. Initially, I did find it tough to keep track of the characters and who was who. There are a lot of descriptions and the way things are presented was somewhat tedious to follow. The most surprising aspect of the novel was the character of Hastings, Poirot’s sidekick, if you will. I cannot express how irritating this character is. An aspiring detective who is so beyond dense and clueless it is quite baffling. The fact that he has a desire to be a detective and believes himself to be an observant person becomes laughable at a certain point. Having read many Poirot books over the years, I don’t remember ever having an issue with this character. I am interested to follow the evolution of Hastings as I make my way through all the books in the series. While The Mysterious Affair at Styles is not a particularly memorable story, I do feel it is a solid first novel in what became an intriguing set of mysteries and brought to life the unique character of detective Poirot.
“What are you going to do?”
“I am going to visit these five people – and from each one I am going to get his or her own story.”
Superintendent Hale sighed with a deep melancholy.
He said: “Man, you’re nuts! None of their stories are going to agree! Don’t you grasp that elementary fact? No two people remember a thing in the same order anyway. And after all this time! Why, you’ll hear five accounts of five separate murders!
“That,” said Poirot, “is what I am counting upon. It will be very instructive.”
Anytime I have trouble focusing on reading, I grab an Agatha Christie mystery to get back in the swing of things. This time around I picked up Five Little Pigs, and it was the perfect book and the perfect time to read it. I quickly became immersed in the mystery and could not put it down until all the answers were revealed.
In Five Little Pigs, the daughter of a woman convicted of murder asks Hercule Poirot to find out the truth regarding her deceased mother’s case. It is sixteen years after the fact, and having been just a child when the crime occurred, she remembers little and wants the facts set straight as she embarks on her own future. Poirot decides to take on the case, carefully interviewing those involved, with the focus on five main suspects who bring to mind an old nursery rhyme:
Philip Blake (the stockbroker) who went to market; Meredith Blake (the amateur herbalist) who stayed at home; Elsa Greer (the three-time divorcee) who had roast beef; Cecilia Williams (the devoted governess) who had none; and Angela Warren (the sister) who cried ‘wee wee wee’ all the way home. Continue reading “The Hercule Poirot Reading List: Five Little Pigs”
“I have a shelf of comfort books, which I read when the world closes in on me or something untoward happens.”
I love the idea of comfort books. The last few days, however, I really had to explore what that concept means to me and what brings me comfort. There are books that I consider favourites that have found a home on my bookshelf, and there is a sense of comfort and safety that can come from reading something I enjoyed in a different time and place. But I don’t have a desire to reread anything right now, and instead I find myself gravitating toward books I haven’t read. What most draws my attention are fantasy novels and some young adult reads, and what most calms my mind is making lists. So, I am making lists, getting organized, and making my way through unread books. When I feel like reading that is, and not watching random old TV shows. 🙂 Continue reading “Comfort Reads and Reading Plans”