For this month's Agatha Christie blog carnival, I thought I'd quote passages from The Mysterious Affair at Styles (published in 1920), in which Hercule Poirot makes his first appearance in the world of literature.
The book also introduces Arthur Hastings who will go on to work with Mr. Poirot. The very first mention of Poirot comes when Hastings is saying he would like to be a detective someday.
I came across a man in Belgium once, a very famous detective, and he quite inflamed me. He was a marvellous little fellow. He used to say that all good detective work was a mere matter of method. My system is based on his - though of course I have progressed rather further. He was a funny little man, a great dandy, but wonderfully clever.
Soon after, Hastings runs into Poirot in the door of the post office. After pleasantries have been exchanged, Poirot says:
It is by the charity of that good Mrs. Inglethorp that I am here. ... Yes, my friend, she had kindly extended hospitality to seven of my country-people who, alas, are refugees from their native land. We Belgians will always remember her with gratitude.
Then Agatha Christie goes on to describe the great detective.
Poirot was an extraordinary looking little man. [the third time he has been described as 'little' and the book has just begun] 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. The neatness of his attire was almost incredible, I believe a speck of dust would have caused him more pain than a bullet wound. Yet this quaint dandyfied little man [again!] who, I was sorry to see, now limped badly, had been in his time one of the most celebrated members of the Belgian police. As a detective, his flair had been extraordinary, and he had achieved triumphs by unravelling some of the most baffling cases of the day.