I'd read some Agatha Christie before but this was my first foray into the adventures of Hercule Poirot. In many ways this novel felt like a very typical murder mystery book. But as I stepped back to think about it, I was pleased by the elegance and the way the book was put together.
In this particular book, Poirot is retired and living in England...I'm not sure how typical this is as compared with the later Poirot novels but I suspect they continue in the same vein. Whatever the case, I enjoyed having this book set in England as it provided familiar settings and customs for the mystery.
The story (and the murder) was presented through the narrative of Hastings, a guest at the stately home where the murder took place. In this regards, our narrator existed in familiar relation to Poirot...it reminded me of the Holmes/Watson setup. However, in this case, I felt like Hastings was a little less helpful to Poirot than Watson is to Holmes. Perhaps this is just because it's Poirot's first novel and later on his assistants are more competent in deduction...or perhaps it's a conscious choice and done to make Poirot seem all the more brilliant.
I only have vague memories of the other books I read by Christie and those memories were mostly that her style and structure sometimes felt repetitive. That said, I really enjoyed this book. Perhaps it's because I haven't read anything by her for a while and thus didn't notice the repetition. Or perhaps the Poirot series is a fresher experience. Whatever the case, it was a fun read.
I had very few qualms about the book. The largest problem I had was the amazing leaps of deduction that felt a little more far fetched than in other books, but were still believable enough. Overall I felt that the mystery, the plot, the writing and the structure of this book was very elegant and engaging.
Mystery fans should give Poirot a try if they haven't already. And if you're just embarking into the world of Poirot, you may as well start with his first adventure here in Styles.
4 out of 5 stars
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