RogerBW's Blog

The Mysterious Affair at Styles 28 January 2021

2005 audio adaptation of Christie's 1920 mystery, in 5 half-hour episodes. Captain Hastings, home on leave from the front, is staying with friends at Styles Court when the elderly owner dies suddenly. He enlists his old friend Hercule Poirot to help investigate.

Simon Williams narrates as Hastings, and does a good job of balancing being interested (and interesting) with remaining necessarily oblivious to the meaning of clues. (It's too easy, I feel, for the Watson-figure to degenerate into comic relief when they have to be acted by a human rather than simply serve as a narrator in text.) Meanwhile John Moffatt, twenty years experienced playing Poirot by this point, comes over as perversely insufferable and pompous; yes, that's a thing which Poirot tends to be, but I think he must also be a little sympathetic or the whole affair risks becoming losing its point.

The cast in general is good, necessarily large given the constraints of the story; fans of The Archers may note Annabelle Dowler in two small roles, both of them significantly more lively than she's allowed to be in that other programme. Most of the red herrings from the novel remain in the adaptation, so things have to move along at a brisk pace.

In spite of some minor problems, I'd call this one of the better of the (relatively few) BBC Christie adaptations I've heard.

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