The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Happy Birthday Agatha Christie!

Today is 128th birthday of Agatha Christie and in her honor we have:

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot #1) by Agatha Christie

I love Agatha Christie’s books. I’ve read almost every single one, but I have never done it in order. I have always wanted to-and will be and be posting on here after I have read them.

My love for Agatha Christie’s book all began when my nana found out I loved mysteries. She gave me a book that held three of her novels in one binding-The Seven Dials Mystery, Crooked House, and Ordeal by Innocence. After that I was hooked and bought/devoured any of her books I could find in thrift stores-taking home as many as I was able to.

Anyways, The Mysterious Affair at Styles was the first of Agatha Christie’s books published under her own name and the first of her mysteries. And it all started with a harmless “bet” between her sister Madge. Madge said that Agatha wouldn’t be able to write a good but she showed her.

Boom

It is the middle of WWII-rationing, moving from city to country, refugees, etc. Colonel Hastings, our narrator and Hercule Poirot’s best friend, starts off the novel in the flavor of Mr. Watson-a recount of the event, the murder, and the “mysterious affair” at Styles.

It all started when he ran into his good friend, John Cavendish. John invites him to join him and the family at Styles. At Styles, is John and his wife Mary-the country squire and wife, the younger brother Lawrence-studied to be a doctor but instead pursued literary ambitions with no success; and Cynthia-a young girl from poor family who is taken in by charity and works as a nurse.

Mrs. Cavendish married John and Lawrence’s father after their mother died, raising them as her own. When Mr. Cavendish died she inherited all the money until her death, which it then reverts home to John, the eldest, and money to Lawrence. She enjoyed the role as Mrs. Cavendish-and controlling the boys with how much money she doles out.

“Mrs. Cavendish, however, was a lady who liked to make her own plans, and expected other people to fall in with them, and in this case she certainly had the whip hand, namely: the purse strings.”

Well, there we go. A petri dish of tension just building for murder.

But to Colonel Hastings surprise, Mrs. Cavendish remarried! Her nurse Evelyn “Evie” Howard had a cousin visit-one Evie did not care for, and her helped Mrs. Cavendish with her many projects. The two fell in love and wed, now Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Inglethorpe.

No one likes Alfred Inglethorpe, Mrs. Cavendish-er Inglethorpe’s new husband. They all see him as a gold digger, but she won’t listen to anyone.

Colonel Hasting doesn’t see why anyone would be attracted to Alfred Inglethorpe. He looks more like a caricature rather than a real person.

“I looked with some curiosity at ‘Alfred darling’. He certainly struck an alien note…It was one of the longest and blackest [beards] I have ever seen. He wore gold-rimmed pince-nez, and had a curious impassivity of feature. It struck me that he might look natural on a stage, but was strangely out of place in real life. His voice was rather deep  and unctuous.”

Hmm…

Evie and Mrs Inglethorpe fight when Evie speaks out against Alfred. Mrs. Inglethorpe sends her packing and as she leaves, her last words were that someone was going to kill Mrs Inglethorpe and implores Colonel Hastings to watch out for her.

Then comes the fateful day. Everyone seems a bit off, excitement and tension in the air. They have a great luncheon, where everyone takes part in a tableaux and shows how they are fantastic actors.

They then visit Cynthia at work, have tea with her, and take a look at the dispensary and the poisons.

On the way back they stop at the post office as Colonel Hastings needs stamps and who should be there but Hercule Poirot! Hstings old friend and former leader of the Belgian police. And the greatest detective!

There is a fight that night between Alfred and Mrs Inglethorpe. After dinner, they have coffee or cocoa and then Alfred goes out to see a friend.

Hmm…

That night the tragedy was struck.

That night Colonel Hasting is awaken by Lawrence. John and the maid Dorcas are also awake and trying to get in Mrs Inglehorpr’s room as it is bolted. They can tell something is wrong and are trying to help her.

They go through Alfred’s room, and Hastings notices that there is no sign of him having been there that night-the bed not mussed everything. They get in and try to help her but are unable to. Her last words:

“Alfred-Alfred-“

They believe that she is poisoned. Everyone is a bit shocked and at a loss of what to do, so Colonel Hastings suggests bringing in Poirot.

Hastings tells Poirot all he can remember of what he knows that has happened in the past few days. They then look over Mrs. Inglethorpe’s room and the house.

Poirot finds six interesting things that will lead them to the killer.

  1. A coffee cup that as has been ground into powder.
  2. A despatch case with a key in the lock.
  3. A stain on the floor.
  4. Fragment of some dark green fabric-only a thread or two, but recognizable.
  5. A large splash of candle grease on the floor by the writing table.
  6. And the sixth he keeps to himself.

Poirot also discovers that Mrs. Inglethorpe wrote a new will:

Everything points to Alfred, but when he goes on trial-Poirot brings information that sets him free-free from being formally charged.

How could Poirot do that? And if it isn;t Alfred? Then who is it?

You’ll just have to read to find out.

Thoughts After Reading:

It was amazing as all her work is. Every time I read I am captured into the book and just astounded at how well she crafts a tale.

For more Agatha Christiego to The Murder at the Vicarage

For more gold diggers, go to A Case of Identity

For more death by poisons, go to Death by Darjeeling

For more mysteries that take place during World War II, go to The Butterfly and the Violin

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A Case of Identity

“A Case of Identity” from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This is a really interesting case as it is one that Sherlock solves, but doesn’t “solve” as he can never reveal the truth to the client as she wouldn’t believe it.

One day Sherlock is remarking to Watson he hasn’t had an interesting case. However, there may be one in the future, near future, as in the girl who is pacing outside their door.

“I have seen those symptoms before,’ said Holmes, throwing his cigarette into the fire. ‘Oscillation upon the pavement always means an affair de coeur. She would like advice, but is not sure that the matter is not too delicate for communication.”

This new client is Miss Mary Sutherland. After Holmes amazes her with his deductive abilities, she introduces her case.

She is here to seek help in finding a Mr. Hosmer Angel.

Mary’s father died not to long ago, and shortly after her mother remarried a Mr. Windibank, fifteen years her junior and five years older than Mary, and they sold the Sutherland plumbing business for £4700. Mary has £100 annual that she receives from her uncle Ned.

She lives at home, earning a side income of £60 at typing, and has a genial relationship with her mother and “father”. She signs over her her £100, as she wants to help at home and can do well off her side income.

Mary used to go out and have fun while her father was alive, but Mr. Windibank never let’s them go anywhere. When they receive tickets to the gasfitter’s ball, in memoriam to her late father, Mary rebels. She decides to go, while her stepfather sulks off to France. She attends the dance with her mother and their old foreman, Mr. Hardy.

There she met Hosmer Angel. They continued to spend time together, as he asked her for walks, courting her. But then one day, her stepfather returns and no more is seen of Mr. Angel.

The two wrote letters and became engaged. However, he will not come around when her father is home.

He was a shy man, retiring, gentlemanly, soft voice, he had weak eyes like Mary and wore tinted glasses.

When her stepfather left, Hosmer Angel returned. They planned to get married and Hosmer made her swear on a bible that whatever happened she would always be true. Mary was worried about stepfather but her mother said to forget it. Mary was still worried as it felt underhanded and wrote to her stepfather, only to receive the letter back.

The day of the wedding Hosmer Angel placed Mary and her mother in a cab , following behind them. But when they reached the church, he had VANISHED!

Her mother and father were very upset and told Mary to forget him. He was just a cad and it wasn’t like he had borrowed money or married her and took off. But Mary can’t forget. She must know where her love is.

She advertised for him in the paper, but nothing. No one knows him and she has not heard from him again.

Where is he?

Sherlock agrees to the case and Mary leaves him to think on it.

Now Sherlock has picked up on many clues, one of which being the letters she received from her Betrothed, Hosmer Angel, were all typewritten, even the signature. Very odd.

He then writes two letters-one to a firm in the city, sand the second to Mr. Windibank.

The two wait for the reply.

The next day, Mr. Windibank answers the note and arrives at Baker Street. Sherlock discusses the case, the letters, etc-Mr. Windibank making a lot of bluster that he would like to catch the guy who did this to his daughter. But then Sherlock reveals who the guy is, Mr. Windibank.

Yes, Mr. Windibank was just a gold digger. He married the widow for her money and was also enjoying the money of the stepdaughter. He tried to do everything he could to keep her from marrying and taking her money with her.

First he never let her out or to any events, but soon Mary grew tired of this and rebelled. Windibank knew it was only a matter of time until she went somewhere and met someone, and he decided the only one she would meet would be himself.

He got his wife to help him and disguised himself. He wanted to distract Mary and knew the best way to hook her was to get her promise of undying love. And on the day of the wedding he entered the carriage on one side, exiting through the other to “vanish”. With such an event, he knew that Mary would never stop trying to look for her “fiancé” and that her heart would be stolen forever.

Thoughts After Reading:

The sad thing about this is that Mary is unlikely to believe him, so he decides to give that view up. But poor girl, how sad that her stepfather and MOTHER would conspire against her like that? I think this is one of the sadder stories in Sherlock Holmes. And now she will spend her life thinking and having her heart stolen by that jerk. And him, nothing he did was really against the law, but how horrible. Sherlock threatens to beat him with a whip for his treachery, but Wiindibank hurries away-fast. Too bad, I would have liked him to get his just desserts.

For more Sherlock Holmes, go to The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

For more by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, go to The Red Headed League

For more from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, go to A Scandal in Bohemia

For more short stories, go to Punishment Without Crime

Till Death Do Us Purl

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Till Death Do Us Purl (A Black Sheep Knitting Mystery #4) by Anne Canadeo

So I know it’s been awhile since I reviewed a Black Sheep Knitting Mystery so let me refresh your memory.

The Black Sheep Knitting group consists of five members: Maggie, widow, ex-art teacher, and owner of the shop The Black Sheep Knitting Shop; Suzanne, real estate agent, mother of many, and a multi-tasking titan; Phoebe, Goth girl, college student, and part-time employee at the knitting shop; Dana, psychologist, mother of two, yoga and heath food enthusiast; and Lucy, recently divorced, dating the town vet, graphic designer.

fantastic

So in the last book, the girls had traveled to a health spa were they helped solve the murder of a self-help guru. Lucy was having some issues with Dr. Matt, her boyfriend, thinking he was cheating on her, but it turned out that he was getting counsling with his soon-to-be-exwife.

HMMM

Yeah, I didn’t like that either.

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So in this book, it is now spring, even though the weather is still chilly. The girls have gathered for their weekly gab and knit, when Maggie throws a surprise on them. Her friend Nora Bailey, and her daughter Rebecca, need help. Rebecca is designing her own wedding dress, knitting it, but the date was changed to be sooner. She needs help making it and the bridesmaid shawls or else it won’t be completed in time.

Wedding

They meet the two and really enjoy their company, especially Rebecca as she is friendly and easy to talk to. It turns out she will be marrying Jeremy, senior chemist at his family’s company, At-Las Technology. They met at the school Rebecca teaches at, when Jeremy came by to volunteer for the science club.

Aw, how sweet.

Aw, how sweet.

Whoa, Rebecca will be marrying into some serious money. But don’t be mistaken, she’s not some gold digger, she is a sweet and normal person.

So as the girls work on the wedding apparel, it has quickly turned everyone’s minds to Lucy and Dr. Matt. The big question, when is the date going to be set?

urkelgif interesting hmm

But Lucy doesn’t want to talk about it. She’s not closed off to the idea of getting married, but she has just gotten divorced, and Dr. Matt is still legally married.

I don't think so.

I don’t think so.

Soon everyone is working on the wedding, or are they? Lucy has been procrastinating, with only an urgent message from Maggie making her get to work. She heads down there, and guess who else is in the shop? Edie Steiber, brassy, bold, and exposition queen. Edie has decided to gab about Jeremy and the rest of the Lassiter gang. She’s heard that the company has suffered since the Atkins and Lassiters (get it? At-Las?) have split. They need a new product or else they are kaput.

oooh 101 Dalmations

Monday night, Lucy is still behind and now horrified to learn that the next day she needs to be done. Her and Suzanne meet up and have a secret knitting party.

The next day, the two have found a way to get everything completed. They are trying everything out, dying the shawls that need to be, when Rebecca puts on her dress. As they are chexking the hemline, Jeremy comes right in.

oopsmybad

He’s early to pick up his bride, and while everyone is upset at him breaking tradition. He doesn’t care, he’s a scientist after all.

The two are very sweet with each other. In fact, he wears a special scarf everyday that he had Rebecca make.

Aw, how sweet.

Aw, how sweet.

The whole group goes to the wedding that Saturday at the beautiful Lassiter mansion. The wedding proves to be doubly entertaining as Jeremy’s long-lost twin brother, black sheep, and prodigal son comes.

The wedding is beautiful and whileLucy is looking around the crowd, she notices Rebecca’s principal, and friend, Stewart with his wife and he is crying. Wow, some people get moved at weddings.

The next morning, Lucy heads to the Black Sheep to gab about the wedding when she finds everyone in tears. It turns out that Jeremy is DEAD!!!

StarTrekTheOriginalSeriesHesDeadJim

What'sHappening?BigBangTheory

The night of Jeremy and Rebecca’s honeymoon, Jeremy had to return to the lab for some reason. There was a fire, and everything was burned, including Jeremy. He was so badly destroyed, no one could recognize him.

Hate this.

Lucy and Maggie visit with Nora, as Rebecca is too upset to see anyone. Stewart has also been a good friend, stopping by to see her.

The memorial is in the same place they had the wedding, at the mansion. Lots of people come, so many that Maggie ends up having to sit away from the other Black Sheep Knitting girls. There she overhears Jeremy’s brother and sister gabbing about all the guests and people. She also meets the infamous Louis Atkins, a silver fox who is interested in Maggie.

Smirkity smirk smirk

But then two bombs are dropped on the group. The first, Lucy and Dr. Matt are moving in together. Does Dr. Matt think they have a future? May Lucy be heading down the aisle too?

paris-whenitsizzlesaudreyhmmHepburn

The second bombshell, a man’s body was found in a motel this morning. It is Jeremy.

whatsthatsupposedtomean

Yes, Jeremy didn’t die in the fire, but faked his death.

What?

The police suspect Rebecca, thinking that she became mad that he was going to run off on her and killed.

Blog-Child-Support-Oh-No

The Black Sheep Knitters know that Rebecca would do no such thing. It is up to them to find the real killer.

veronicamarsinvestigatesleuth

Did Jeremy’s sister do it, angry that he would abandon the company when they need it most and leave her the captain of a sinking ship? Was it his father who needed the new glue formula to continue his wealthy lifestyle? Did Louis kill Jeremy to get his glue formula? Was his ex-girlfriend Erica so mad that he chose to marry another women, she decided it was better he was dead than with Rebecca? Or is Rebecca not as sweet as she seems but a stone cold killer?

suspense

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Thoughts After Reading:

So this was the first book I read on the series and the one I think is the absolute best.

fantastic

It is well written and the mystery is unbelievable.

Whoa

The whole time I thought I had it figured out only to be utterly and completely wrong.

What?

You really Agatha Christied me.

loveitSupernatural

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For more Black Sheep Knitting Mysteries, go to A Stitch Before Dying

For more book reviews, go to One for the Money