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The Mysterious Affair at Styles is a detective novel by Agatha Christie. It was written in 1916 and was first published by John Lane in the United States in October 1920 and in the United Kingdom by The Bodley Head (John Lane's UK Company) on January 21, 1921. The U.S. edition retailed at $2.00 and the UK edition at seven shillings and sixpence (7/6).
It is Christie's first published novel, and introduces Hercule Poirot, Inspector (later, Chief Inspector) Japp and Lieutenant Hastings (later, Captain). The story is told in first person by Hastings, and features many of the elements that, thanks to Christie, have become icons of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. It is set in a large, isolated country manor. There are half-dozen suspects, most of whom are hiding facts about themselves. The book includes maps of the house, the murder scene, and a drawing of a fragment of a will. Also, there are a number of red herrings and surprise plot twists.
The novel is set in England during World War I at Styles Court, an Essex country manor (also the setting of Curtain, Poirot's last case). Upon her husband's death, the wealthy widow, Emily Cavendish, inherited a life estate in Styles as well as the outright inheritance of the larger part of the late Mr. Cavendish's income. Mrs. Cavendish became Mrs. Inglethorp upon her recent remarriage to a much younger man, Alfred Inglethorp. Emily's two stepsons, John and Lawrence Cavendish, as well as John's wife Mary and several other people, also live at Styles. John Cavendish is the vested remainder man of Styles; that is, the property will pass to him automatically upon his stepmother's decease, as per his late father's will. The income left to Mrs Inglethorp by her late husband would be distributed as per Mrs. Inglethorp's own will. (Wikipedia)