The Mysterious Affair at Styles - Agatha Christie
Mystery writer Edmund Crispin once wrote of Christie: "...relaxing with a Christie [novel], for an hour or two you can forget the authentic nastiness of life and submerge yourself in a world where, no matter how many murders take place, you are essentially in never-never land." Writing this review after the events of September 11, 2001, one must think it will take more than a mystery novel to forget nastiness of that magnitude. Indeed, it has been a slow return to my normal schedule following President Bush's request that the nation return to work, but I do understand his logic. While we should continue to support the NYC and DC rescue and rebuilding efforts in our own ways, we should also take care of ourselves in this time, and return to some degree of normalcy. If we don't, then the terrorists have truly won, and we cannot allow that.

That said, my normal schedule consists of my job, my writing, and my reading, most of which sustains the many websites I maintain. Recently I purchased a PDA and downloaded an e-book reader program, and through a stroke of good fortune I found on the Internet a .prc file of Christie's The Mysterious Affair at Styles, better known as the literary debut of one Hercule Poirot.

It has been said that Christie wrote this book in response to her sister's complaint that mystery novels of the time were too easy to solve; in Styles our work is clearly cut out for us as one gentleman Hastings joins his friend on a holiday at the home of his friend's mother, Mrs. Inglethorp, only to become embroiled in the woman's murder and the ensuing investigation. Poirot, vacationing nearby, sagely interviews the house staff and regards the crime scene is his trademark calculating manner, offering just enough information to keep Hastings and the reader frustrated and yearning to learn the outcome.

Even in her first published work, Christie's writing is polished and the story entertaining and suspenseful. Even in the quietest settings she was able to invoke a sense of suspicion and discomfort, a talent that easily earned Christie the title of queen of the cozy mystery.