New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1926. First Dodd, Mead Edition. Christie's first book, narrated by a Captain Hastings, home from the Western Front, who is convalescing at Styles Court, the stately home of a friend in Essex. Styles is ruled by the septuagenarian matriarch of the family, who dies suddenly in a fit of convulsions, determined to be strychnine poisoning. The family calls on Scotland Yard, who arrests the matriarch's much younger new husband. Meanwhile, Hastings encounters his old friend Hercule Poirot, late of the Belgian police, in a nearby settlement for Belgian refugees, who goes on to carry out a parallel investigation to Scotland Yard. "Christie gives the reader a great deal of help in the form of plans of the layout of the first floor of the house and of the victim's bedroom together with examples of handwriting, letters, mysterious messages and so on, in addition to the carefully developed plot, but as like as not, most readers will not know the solution until the neat little foreign detective, with his egg-shaped head, waxed moustaches and quaint command of the English language, solves the murder – to the amazement and discomfiture of the police and everyone else" (Wagstaff & Poole, pp.17-18).

The true first edition of The Mysterious Affair at Styles was published in New York by the John Lane Company in 1920. This was followed by what is generally accepted as the Second US edition, authorized by John Lane and published by the National Book Company (ca.1922-23). Beginning with Christie's second book, The Secret Adversary, Dodd, Mead & Co. became her American publisher through the end of her career. By 1926, they had secured the copyright and reprint rights for her debut, and thus The Mysterious Affair at Styles was published in a uniform style with her early 1920s novels (The Secret Adversary through The Murder of Roger Ackroyd). They retained the same jacket artwork for this edition that appeared on the 1920 US and 1921 UK editions. The first US and UK editions of this title are essentially unobtainable in dustjacket; neither appear in the auction record, and the consensus among colleagues I've queried is: "It's a ghost." This one's beautiful, and if you want a "First" in dustjacket, it's your best (and maybe only) option. Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone; Barzun & Taylor 780. Item #6962

First Printing. Octavo (19.25cm); jade green cloth, with titles stamped in red on spine and front cover; light green topstain; dustjacket; [8],9-296pp. Base of spine gently nudged, else a fresh, Fine copy. Dustjacket is unclipped (priced $2.00), showing some trivial wear to extremities, a few tiny nicks and tears, and a small, faint splash mark at mid-spine; bright, unrestored, and very Near Fine. Housed in a custom half-morocco clamshell case.

Price: $15,000.00

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