Thursday, February 27, 2014


By Agatha Christie.
John Lane.
1920. 296 pages. $2.00
Filmed for TV in 1990.
Available on Kindle.
This critic makes passing reference to Mrs. Christie's recent disappearance:
IS it an index of what people really like to read in their off moments that there are no mystery stories whatsoever left in my library? Someone might reply, "No, it is only an index of the sort of person who visits your house?"
By way of retort I could offer a guestbook if my wife believed in one; but she doesn't. Be that as it may, I have during the past few months spent a small fortune in the purchase of copies of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and now have spent a fortunate morning in the perusal of The Mysterious Affair at Styles.
Mrs. Christie of late has been much in the public prints. Just what the truth of that disappearance may be, I do not know. It does not seem to me to matter. She writes mystery stories rather better than any other woman except Mrs. Rinehart. That's enough for me.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Dodd, Mead), as I understand it, was her first novel. This is extraordinary, if so; for it is a better novel than The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. The method is somewhat the same, since Poirot is used as a detective foil to the hero and to Scotland Yard. However, whereas it is possible, I think, to guess who murdered Roger, the question of who murdered Mrs. Inglethorp remained inexplicable to one reader, at least, until the author chose to unravel her knots. What more is there to say of a good mystery story than this—that it is written so as not to insult the intelligence, and that it is mysterious?
I wish that you would tell me some old mystery stories that have delighted you. I think I am about to make a collection of them as insurance against the boredom of old age. There are never enough good ones in one or two seasons of book publishing to satisfy this insatiable appetite. — J. F., "The Editor Recommends: The Mysterious Mrs. Christie," THE BOOKMAN (March 1927) 
The intense interest aroused in the public by what was known at the time as 'The Styles Case' has now somewhat subsided. Nevertheless, in view of the world-wide notoriety which attended it, I have been asked, both by my friend Poirot and the family themselves, to write an account of the whole story. This, we trust, will effectually silence the sensational rumours which still persist.
I will therefore briefly set down the circumstances which led to my being connected with the affair. . . . — Arthur Hastings, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)

Category: Detective fiction

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