SynopsisInjured and sent back to England from the First World War, Lieutenant Hastings finds himself in a convalescent home very much to his disliking. Thankfully his old friend John Cavendish invites him to spend the rest of his sick leave at the beautiful Styles Court. 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 who better to investigate than Belgian war refugee Hercule Poirot, another old friend and a retired police detective.
This was the first Agatha Christie novel and apparently publishers were not interested in publishing it.
Of course once one publisher did decide to give it a go then Mrs Christie had lots of interest from many publishers due no doubt to the great interest everyone had in reading and buying this book. The following and other great reviews of the time will also have helped.
she betrays the cunning of an old hand..."
The New York Times Book Review, 1920
I had read it years ago and I did remember who the murderer was but did not remember all the fine details so perhaps because of this I have realized now just how good this book is and especially just how good it was for a first book. All the clues were there, so those who say that she hides some clues are mistaken here. We really just have to read the books carefully to see it all.
I was even taken with the structure of some of the sentences, very carefully done so that things are not given away immediately but written so that it can get us thinking. I normally refer to Agatha Christie novels as light reading but if we take it too lightly we will miss the clues, the background info which can often be very important and of course the subtlety in Poirot's musings.
Written so well in the voice of Hastings, it was no wonder she kept him in many of the Poirot novels and if I had to give my view she should have kept him even later too.
If you are interested in this book have a look on The Agatha Christie Website where you will see that it is the book clubs read for this month.
I think this one is good enough for my Shelfari bookshelf here so that means it is a favourite of mine.
UPDATEI've also done a TV adaptation review for this one now see
TV Adaptation Review