Monday, September 27, 2010

Cover Contemplation- The English Ones

Since Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles is 80 years old, it has been published a LOT and because of this there are so many covers for it. Since there are just so many I’m going to have to break up this cover contemplation into two sections, today’s will be all the English covers for this book I could find.

This first cover is a really old one and it pictures one of the Cavendish brothers holding a candle while Cynthia and Mary are slightly behind him. In the foreground is who I believe to be Poirot looking over the table. I couldn't find a better cover of this one but it's the first cover of the book back in 1920. The author actually had a painting of this commissioned for one of her houses later in life. I love this second cover with the cup of tea where the steam comes up in the shape of a woman's head silhouette. Also it has the will and a poison bottle of it too. Plus, it has a lovely background too. This is supposed to be Mud Puddle Books' 2006 hardcover edition. I haven't got a clue about this third cover that looks hastily thrown together. Especially since the story takes place during summer and this one looks like it's winter. At least the manor is nice!

This next one is a paperback from 2004 and it's somewhat more interesting than a stock photo since it has Styles Court in the photo, the purple dispatch case with it's key, Poirot’s house of cards and of course a steaming cup of tea. This cover is from 2004 I believe and it's a lovely blue with a poison bottle on it and includes the byline: Poirot's First Case. Kind of plain but I do like it. The mainly white cover with the tiny rectangle with the table with the purple dispatch case, will, key, and the bottle of poison on the table is a Berkley mass market paperback edition that was published for several of the Poirot books. I even own one with a very similar look to it.

2006's hardcover is a mainly red (sometimes pink) cover with an overturned tea cup which is another stock photo that could have used a little work in my opinion. While this next one has a 1930's look to it, this cover was actually the 2001 hardcover. An interesting look with the Cavendish brothers over their stepmother's bed with the silhouette of the lady at the end of the bed. I'm not sure what year this next cover comes from but it's definitely a stock photo since none of those cars were available back in the 1930's! I do like those trees and gate though. The next cover could fall under the stock photo category but that house does look like an old English manor.

I haven't the foggiest idea of why a church and graveyard are on this next cover. I supposed that it could represent where Emily Inglethorp is buried but it doesn't make much sense otherwise. Another one that doesn't make much sense is this Wildside Press 2009 black and grey background with the picture with all the stuff on it. Not that any of these things are in the book of course. A lady's hand holding a red rose (which reminds me, was there fingernail polish back in the 1930s?) is pretty boring and something else that doesn't depict the story in any way but at least the byline says that it's Agatha Christie's first novel and where Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings are introduced.

Waking Lion Press published the cover with the cup of coffee and the black bowler hat in 2006. A mind-numbingly boring paperback that isn't worth the price of what it's going for on Amazon. Random House Trade paperbacks published this red 2007 cover with the owl in the bowler hat. I actually like this one even if it is slightly simple and has nothing to do with the actual story. The Modern Library Classics never have the best covers but I usually pick these up anyway since they have interesting introductions. What this lady has to do with the book is beyond me though. I'm still not sure if that's supposed to be a car window or a house window either. This cover was published in 2003.

The slightly reddish-brown cover with the spilled coffee covering the hand is another boring cover brought to you by Deodand Publishing (from Australia) in 2002. Bantam published this next cover of the hat and the mustache which is supposed to be Poirot in paperback from 1978. I haven't a clue who published this 1986 one but that picture in the background of the old lady is horrifying huh? I don't want to say that that man is supposed to be Poirot because he doesn't look at all what the author describes nor does he look anything like any of the actors who have played him. Mark Twain or Colonel Sanders maybe but not Hercule Poirot.

Pan Books is the publisher of this next three paperbacks, one published in 1954, 1959 and the last in 1969-74 but I’m not sure which is which. The first one features Hercule Poirot peering into a cup which though he doesn’t look quite right, it’s better than the other one with the yellow cover is supposed to be a sketch of Hercule Poirot and though it's not bad, he's not quite what I imagined. For one thing, that bowtie is just not neat enough for Poirot and I don't think his mustache was quite so thin either! I do like the smashed cup which is one of the only ones I could find that had one too.

I love this 1945 Avon Books pulp fiction-looking cover. It's so campy with the barely dressed woman (Mary maybe?) and the tuxedoed man behind her staring in shock at the woman's hand holding the glass. The only big consistency is the glass but actually everything is slightly off about this cover. I still really like it for some reason though. The cover with the face and pouring the poison into a glass is also an Avon Books cover from 1945. It's also kind of boring if you ask me. The next mass market paperback published by Panther in 1983 is another boring one since it only features hands holding a bottle of poison. I would definitely just pass this one right by if I saw it somewhere. Wildside Press published this last cover in 2009 with the cartoony-looking cover of the woman who looks like a flapper which is totally inconsistent with the story but I do like it... I'd just like it better on a different book!


  1. Blimey, I didn't realise there were so many different covers. I like the manor house one in black and white at the top. It appeals to my inner Goth!

  2. Wow ... that is a LOT of covers. Of all of them, I think my favorite is the one with the coffee cup with the ladies head coming out.

  3. I love AC and I LOVE the first set of covers best :)

  4. wow, thats alot of covers. I like the Avon ones best. I used to read alot of Agatha books, but havent read this one.

  5. That's a lot. I think my favorite is actually the one with the hat and mustache from 1978. If I remember right, it's the one I originally read, although I don't think I still own it.


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