The Page: The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie
The first of the Hercule Poirot mysteries, this was also the very first Agatha Christie I have ever read. And I loved it!! I really enjoyed reading a classic, clean, smart mystery. I was a little irritated about Poirot always being one step ahead of the reader, and wandering off and not explaining things, but that happens in almost every single clever mystery, and really, do you want the reader to be ahead of a famous detective? Probably not. This was a perfect way to spend a stormy evening in front of a fire, and I enjoyed the mind puzzle of the mystery. I also liked that there is no filler in this book, and it is pretty short (182 pgs). I am really excited to read more of Agatha Christie’s work. I typically sell/donate/swap my mysteries after I’ve read them, but I will hold on to Agatha Christie’s books to re-read at some point later in life.
The Screen: Agatha Christie’s Poirot Season 3, Episode 1 titled “The Mysterious Affair at Styles”
This was the first episode of the long-time series Poirot that I have seen. There was a little bit of stuff about WW1 that was in the show that I don’t remember being in the book, so I’m not sure if that stuff will come out in the books later, or if it was just there for the setting. I opted to watch the episode immediately following my reading of the book, and I’m not sure that this was a good idea, namely because the book was so fresh in my mind that I was recognizing dialogue, and the show felt like someone was reading the book out loud, and the images on screen were playing at the same time. So, it did take me a bit to get into the show, and I almost turned it off to watch later, once I had forgotten a few details. But, I kept watching, and once Poirot appeared on the scene, I liked it much more.
Casting wise, David Suchet, who plays Hercule Poirot, is perfection. I’ve only read the one book and seen this one episode, but I was very pleased with how he portrayed the character. My irritations about Poirot being one step ahead of the reader were nonexistent in the show. The one issue I had with the casting was that of Hastings. In the book, Hastings is 30 years old. The actor portraying Hastings, Hugh Fraser, seemed to be a bit older than that, and it just kind of bothered me that they didn’t have a younger man play the role because much of Hastings’ character (in this episode at least) was talking about how he doesn’t understand women, and learning from Poirot, and it just felt like his actions didn’t match his age. But acting wise, he was great, and the age didn’t truly have anything to do with the story, so I’m really just being nit-picky here.
Another thing that I didn’t like was the omission of one character, Dr Bauerstein, and his plotline. I thought this was one of the more interesting aspects of the book, so was disappointed to see it completely missing from the show. I also am not sure that I would’ve understood how the murder happened had I not read the book, since the plotting was pretty complex. I’m apprehensive about watching the other episodes, because this particular episode was 103 minutes long and cut some of the book out, and most of the other episodes are just under an hour. I did notice that many of the later episodes are longer, so that’s a good sign. I’ll probably continue watching the show (thank goodness for Netflix instant view!) but I will definitely read the books first, since the show will most likely cut stuff out, and I appreciate the detail in the books. I’m thankful that the episode didn’t have any added characters and plotlines; it just really irritates me when adaptations add stuff like that in. You can take away, but please don’t ever add! It rarely turns out well.
Bottom Line: The book is marvelous, a must for any murder mystery fan. The show is good too, albeit minus a few interesting plotlines, but remains mostly faithful to the source.
So there you have it, my first official From Page To Screen review! Does anyone know if the Hercule Poirot books need to be read in order? What about the Miss Marple series? Which of Agatha Christie’s books are your favorite? Are there any other Agatha Christie shows/movies I should watch?