Plot Summary: When Captain Hastings visits his friend John Cavendish at the family estate in Styles, he has no inkling of the tragic events that will soon follow. Mrs. Inglethorpe, the family matriarch, is seized with a fit in the middle of the night and dies from an apparent case of strychnine poisoning. Who had a motive for murdering her? Was it one of her sons, hoping to benefit from the will? Her second husband 20 years her junior? Her daughter-in-law, Mary, who is obviously having an affair? The mysterious foreigner, Dr. Bauerstein, who seems to turn up at odd moments? This mystery is the first in the Hercule Poriot series, and the first by famous mystery writer, Agatha Christie (published 1920).
My Book Review: The nice thing about Agatha Christie’s novels is that they are all pretty much standalone stories even if they belong to one of her detective-series. I’ve read some of the Poirot mysteries before, but I thought it would be nice to go back and start reading them in order.
This wasn’t my favorite Christie mystery, to be honest. It had a clever ending, but for much of the book I felt sort of bored. It just lacked something, though I can’t put my finger on it. I guess it just didn’t have the atmosphere that I enjoyed while reading Ngaio Marsh’s first mystery, A Man Lay Dead. Actually the two mysteries sort of resembled each other in plot structure, which is interesting. Although Marsh’s debut had it’s faults, I think I enjoyed reading that one much better than this one. Then again, maybe if I hadn’t read the two back to back I might have a different impression, but there it is!
This book did include the usual cast of different characters and lots of dialogue, which I always love. I think that if a person wanted to try out Agatha Christie for the first time, it might be better to start with a different book to really get an idea of Christie’s talent as a mystery writer. (Personally I would recommend Why Didn’t They Ask Evans or Crooked House.) But it was interesting to learn a little more about Poirot’s background (ie, what he’s doing in England instead off Belgium?), and if you’re a completist, you won’t want to skip this first in the series.