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on April 8, 2001
In 1920 Agatha Christie introduced a quirky little Belgian detective to the world in this book she wrote on a dare from her sister. The time is World War I and Poirot is one of a small group of Belgian refugees who has come to live in a rural English village. With his egg-shaped head and his well-groomed moustache, Poirot enters and soon becomes one of fiction's best-loved detectives. Also in this novel, the reader is introduced to his cohort, Captain Arthur Hastings, recovering from a war injury at the upper-class household known as Styles Court. The mistress of the manor is Emily Inglethorpe, an elderly woman who has just married a much younger man. The family members occupying the house all become suspects when Mrs. Inglethorpe is murdered and it is up to Poirot's little grey cells to sift through all the red herrings and, in the final chapter, reveal all in true detective fashion. High on Poirot's list of suspects are: John Cavendish, the elder stepson; Mary Cavendish, his wife; Lawrence Cavendish, the younger stepson; Evelyn Howard, Mrs. Inglethorpe's companion; Cynthia Murdoch, her protegee; and Dr. Bauerstein, a mysterious stranger who lives in Essex. All have motive and opportunity but only Poirot can discover the truth.
This first novel sets the tone for many Christies to follow. The wealthy family inhabiting a country house, the non-violent method of murder (poisoning) so favored by Mrs. Christie, and the light-hearted but often serious romance all became hallmarks of many of her later works.
Have a cup of hot chocolate with Poirot and enjoy the adventure.
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on September 6, 2012
I have always loved Christie's books for quick and fun entertainment. Although I used to own her entire published works in English, I lost my whole collection years ago to severe water damage. Recently, I was talked into buying a Kindle (reluctantly--I still like the heft, smell and feel of a paper book) and I was pleased to see this book was available at the best price ever: free.

However, I was extremely annoyed when I discovered that there is no attempt to reproduce the many diagrams and pieces of evidence discussed in the book; in fact, there isn't even an acknowledgement that they are completely missing. The story will say something like, "Below is a diagram representing the layout of the house", and below there is absolutely nothing.

It turns out that these diagrams are essential to understanding (or solving on your own) the pivotal murder in the story. For shame! This destroys what Christie has always been known for--being completely fair with clues so that the perceptive reader can often solve much of the mystery right along with Poirot.
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on May 4, 2011
"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." I love the description of Poirot. This is the start of one of the best sets of mysteries ever made - the first appearance of the celebrated Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot.

Poirot is interesting for many reasons, one of the first that he was a famous detective as a member of the Belgian police force. Due to WW I, Poirot has to move to England as a refugee, and remains. It's also the first appearance of Capt. Hastings, the sometimes narrator of the stories.

Wonderful characters, great story. Easy 5 stars.

This is the free Kindle version. A must get if you like mysteries.
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on November 2, 2011
This review applies only to the Kindle edition.

There are illustrations which are essential to the plot and referenced in the text. They are missing from this edition. I had to find another copy in order to finish the book. Very disappointed in the lack of quality in this release.
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on May 11, 2004
Hercule Poirot, the little Belgian detective has returned to Styles Court, the scene of his first English adventure in crime for his final case. But now the handsome country mansion is a guest house and Poirot, old and arthritic, is one of the guests. He invites Captain Hastings to join him and then reveals the reason for his request. Poirot informs his old friend that they are "here to hunt down a murderer." And to find out who is the killer, first a murder has to be committed. But who will be the victim?
Although Curtain was written during the London blitz in the early years of World War II, it never got published until 1975. The reason being that in this book the famous detective Hercule Poirot concludes his wonderful career. Agatha Christie wanted Poirot not to survive his creator. Therefore she finished his career by writing Curtain and locked the manuscript in a bank vault. Dame Agatha Christie died on January 12, 1976, one year later than her most famous creation.
Curtain is a vintage Christie. The plot is ingenious and seems totally committed to putting the reader on the wrong track. Although the actual motive and operation procedure of the murderer are quite dubious and unbelievable¸ there is only one word that can truly describe the denouement: sublime. In a few lines Poirot explains how the unsuspicious reader probably missed five smartly interwoven clues. When you read these lines you can only but hit yourself on the head for being so short-sighted, exactly the same feeling reflected by Captain Hastings at the end of the book.
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on January 5, 2000
This is Poirot's first case and Christie's debut as a mystery writer. It is an auspicious start to a brilliant career for both the author and her creation. It's a bit over-ambitious; the young Christie was heavy-handed with the clues in this one, and while the ending is a surprise, the last section of the book is just a bit too long for the ending to have quite the impact that Christie would achieve in later works. This is perhaps the only Christie book about which one can say there are "too many clues;" it is nonetheless an astounding achievement for a first-time author. And, of course, any fan of Poirot will want to read the case that "started it all."
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on December 7, 2004
Many have read Murder on the Orient Express and other classic Agatha Christie books. I probably read my first Christie book 25 years ago.

But I had never heard of her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, before spotting it in a library. This book is certainly not her best. But it is certainly worth reading. Interestingly, despite introducing her famous detective Hercule Poirot to the reader, she treats him as a person who people should know if they know anything about detectives, as someone with whom we are all acquainted already.

The plot has all the hallmarks of Agatha's later works. A person dies. There are small assorted clues, but nothing like a smoking gun. There are people who hate the victim, and people who love them, but Christie manages to draw suspicion upon both sets of characters alike without making the plot seem forced. The intricate plan for the murder that eventually comes out is similarly within the realm of possibility.

The only real problem I had was that when Poirot revealed the final clue, it was something none of us could have guessed beforehand. Still, this was a good first effort in a marvelous career for Agatha Christie.
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on November 11, 2011
I am like TOTALLY an Agatha Christie fan & have never been so devoted to any other author. BBC's MYSTERY! has been successfully producing AC's work for years, but despite that, I hope the enjoyment of her wonderful books gets across to new generations, particularly in the United States.

So did Agatha save her best for last? Christie created 2 detectives who grace & dominates the crime genre pantheon: The peculiar little Belgium detective Hercule Poirot (pwah-roh) & the crafty old lady Miss Jane Marple. If I were forced to speculate which is the most popular, I'd opt for Poirot, but Jane Marple's great too. Despite her old bitty, English persona, she is really up to date. For example, in one story (THIRD GIRL) set in the 1960's, the always curious senior finds herself accidentally lost while walking in a tough London neighborhood. Rather than freak out, she mulls over her predicament & comes to the conclusion that human nature is much the same almost everywhere & people are usually pretty decent. She overcomes her initial sense of alarm & the resulting positive asttitude is contagious as several of the "toughs" actually help her out.

But I digress. It's Poirot who stars in CURTAIN, It IS his last case, but AC wrote it years before it was eventually released. This much of the plot I can divulge: An ancient Poirot has returned to the mansion of his first case (THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES) set during World War I in the English countryside. He was already close to middle-age in that story, so he had to be about a hundred in CURTAIN, but there is such a thing as creative license, so we'll let that pass.

Anyway, Styles has been downgraded over the years to a rather shabby B&B run by a sharp-tongued shrew & her henpecked husband. So why is the celebrated detective staying at such a dump? Ah, that's where the plot thickens. It seems that Poirot has become aware of a series of murders connected only by the "coincidence" of a same person being on the periphery of each crime, but who has a with a cast iron alibi for each murder. The great detective knows who it is--one of the other guests, of course (OR one of the current owners)--but he can't prove it.

Poirot knows he needs help in this complex case, so he invites his old buddy Captain Hastings to join him from his home in Argentina (Hastings was also involved in the earlier crime). The devoted Hastings is still grieving the loss of his wife (whom he met in another case, MURDER ON THE LINKS). Complicating things even more, Hastings beautiful & indepent daughter Judith is also on ther scene, assistant to a brilliant scientist trapped in a loveless marriage. In fact, everybody has a good motive to murder any of the other guests. As the body count rises, who is the mysterious & manipulative killer?

Finding the answer is Agatha Christie at her very best.
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on November 8, 2010
The product description of this Kindle book states that it includes the maps, diagrams, and other graphical information mentioned in the text. I now realize that this description must be acut-and-paste from a desctiption of the paper book. The Kindle edition does not include the graphics, will fragments, etc.

This is very disappointing, because the product description specifically recites that all these elements are present in the product. They are not present.

This book is available for free as its copyright has expired. I purchased this edition specifically and only because it claimed to contain the full presentation as contained in the original novel.

$.99 is no big deal, but it is disturbing that Amazon placed language in a product description that is specifically false.
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on October 19, 2009
The novel itself is a classic and a masterpiece. That said, you should pony up for a better edition. Simply put, the novel includes several diagrams and reproductions of handwritten notes -which are not included in this Kindle edition. So, you pretty much have to get a copy of the physical book, or do without important clues to the solution of the mystery. I have read other Kindle books which include diagrams, drawings, etc., so it can easily be done. This particular publisher/editor didn't bother, and the result is a less-than-satisfactory reading experience. Five stars for the novel; 1 star for the Kindle edition.
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