Agatha Christie – “The Mysterious Affair At Styles” (1920)

The Mysterious Affair at Styles is a detective novel by Agatha Christie. It was written in the middle of World War I, in 1916, and first published by John Lane in the United States in October 1920.

Styles was Christie’s first published novel, introducing Hercule Poirot, Inspector (later, Chief Inspector) Japp, and Arthur Hastings. Poirot, a Belgian refugee of the Great War, is settling in England near the home of Emily Cavendish, 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. (Wikipedia)

Poirot was an extraordinary looking little man. He was hardly more than five feet, four inches, but carried himself with great dignity. His head was exactly the shape of an egg, and he always perched it a little on one side. His moustache was very stiff and military. The neatness of his attire was almost incredible. I believe a speck of dust would have caused him more pain than a bullet wound. Yet this quaint dandyfied little man who, I was sorry to see, now limped badly, had been in his time one of the most celebrated members of the Belgian police. As a detective, his flair had been extraordinary, and he had achieved triumphs by unravelling some of the most baffling cases of the day.

He pointed out to me the little house inhabited by him and his fellow Belgians, and I promised to go and see him at an early date. Then he raised his hat with a flourish to Cynthia, and we drove away.

“He’s a dear little man,” said Cynthia. “I’d no idea you knew him.”

“You’ve been entertaining a celebrity unawares,” I replied.

And, for the rest of the way home, I recited to them the various exploits and triumphs of Hercule Poirot.

We arrived back in a very cheerful mood. As we entered the hall, Mrs. Inglethorp came out of her boudoir. She looked flushed and upset.

“Oh, it’s you,” she said.

“Is there anything the matter, Aunt Emily?” asked Cynthia.

“Certainly not,” said Mrs. Inglethorp sharply. “What should there be?”

 

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Agatha Christie – “The Secret Adversary” (1922)

The Secret Adversary is a work of detective fiction by Agatha Christie first published in the United Kingdom by The Bodley Head in January 1922 and in the United States by Dodd, Mead and Company later in that same year. The UK edition retailed at seven shillings and sixpence (7/6) and the US edition at $1.75. It is her second published novel. The book introduces the characters of Tommy and Tuppence who feature in three other Christie novels and one collection of short stories; the five Tommy and Tuppence books span Agatha Christie’s writing career. (Wikipedia)

Hardly able to contain his excitement, Tommy hurried down the stairs. Tuppence was waiting at the angle of the turn.

“You heard?”

“Yes. Oh, Tommy!”

Tommy squeezed her arm sympathetically.

“I know, old thing. I feel the same.”

“It’s—it’s so lovely to think of things—and then for them really to happen!” cried Tuppence enthusiastically.

Her hand was still in Tommy’s. They had reached the entrance hall. There were footsteps on the stairs above them, and voices.

Suddenly, to Tommy’s complete surprise, Tuppence dragged him into the little space by the side of the lift where the shadow was deepest.

“What the——”

“Hush!”

Two men came down the stairs and passed out through the entrance. Tuppence’s hand closed tighter on Tommy’s arm.

“Quick—follow them. I daren’t. He might recognize me. I don’t know who the other man is, but the bigger of the two was Whittington.”

 

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