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Tuesday Matinee: BBC Radio Drama: Agatha Christie – Poirot – The Mysterious Affair at Styles – John Moffatt, Simon Williams


Classic Christie


The Mysterious Affair at Styles is a detective novel by British writer Agatha Christie. It was written in the middle of the First World War, in 1916, and first published by John Lane in the United States in October 1920[1] and in the United Kingdom by The Bodley Head (John Lane’s UK company) on 21 January 1921.[2]

Styles was Christie’s first published novel. It introduced Hercule Poirot, Inspector (later, Chief Inspector) Japp, and Arthur Hastings.[3] Poirot, a Belgian refugee of the Great War, is settling in England near the home of Emily Inglethorp, who helped him to his new life. His friend Hastings arrives as a guest at her home. When the woman is killed, Poirot uses his detective skills to solve the mystery.

The book includes maps of the house, the murder scene, and a drawing of a fragment of a will. The true first publication of the novel was as a weekly serial in The Times, including the maps of the house and other illustrations included in the book. This novel was one of the first ten books published by Penguin Books when it began in 1935.

This first mystery novel by Agatha Christie was well received by reviewers. An analysis in 1990 was positive about the plot, considered the novel one of the few by Christie that is well-anchored in time and place, a story that knows it describes the end of an era, and mentions that the plot is clever. Christie had not mastered cleverness in her first novel, as “too many clues tend to cancel each other out”; this was judged a difficulty “which Conan Doyle never satisfactorily overcame, but which Christie would

Golden Age of Detective Fiction

The story is told in the first person by Hastings, and features many of the elements that have become icons of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, largely due to Christie’s influence. It is set in a large, isolated country manor. There are a half-dozen suspects, most of whom are hiding facts about themselves. The plot includes a number of red herrings and surprise twists.

Impact on Christie’s career

The Mysterious Affair at Styles launched Christie’s writing career. Christie and her husband subsequently named their house “Styles”.

Hercule Poirot, who first appeared in this novel, would go on to become one of the most famous characters in detective fiction. Decades later, when Christie told the story of Poirot’s final case in Curtain, she set that novel at Styles


The novel was adapted as a five-part serial for BBC Radio 4 in 2005. John Moffatt reprised his role of Poirot. The serial was broadcast weekly from Monday, 5 September to Monday, 3 October, from 11.30 am to 12.00 noon. All five episodes were recorded on Monday, 4 April 2005, at Bush House. This version retained the first-person narration by the character of Hastings.

Adaptor: Michael Bakewell
Producer: Enyd Williams


  • John Moffatt as Hercule Poirot
  • Simon Williams as Arthur Hastings
  • Philip Jackson as Inspector James Japp
  • Jill Balcon as Emily Inglethorp
  • Hugh Dickson as Alfred Inglethorp
  • Susan Jameson as Mary Cavendish
  • Nicholas Boulton as Lawrence Cavendish
  • Hilda Schroder as Dorcas
  • Annabelle Dowler as Cynthia Murdoch and Annie
  • Nichola McAuliffe as Evelyn Howard
  • Sean Arnold as John Cavendish
  • Richard Syms as Mr. Wells
  • Ioan Meredith as Mr. Phillips
  • Michael Mears as Sir Ernest Heavyweather
  • Harry Myers as Mr. Mace
  • Peter Howell as the Coroner
  • Robert Portal as Dr Bauerstein

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