By Sophia Whitfield
The Monogram Murders is the first book featuring the famous Hercule Poirot since Agatha Christie’s death in 1976. Crime writer Sophie Hannah, bestselling author of The Carrier (2013), has added her own sophisticated plot to this new murder mystery.
According to Agatha Christie Limited chairman and grandson of the famous novelist, Matthew Pritchard, it was Hannah’s “compelling plot line” and “passion for his grandmother’s work” that convinced him the time was right for a new Hercule Poirot novel to be written.
Set in the 1920s The Monogram Murders is an immersion into the deductive skills of the great Belgian detective. Known for his moustache and rotund physique Hannah captures his personality right from the start.
The pace of this novel races along opening with Poirot sitting in his favourite Pleasant’s Coffee House when a distressed Jennie makes an entrance convinced that she will soon be dead. Seeing her terrified state Poirot cannot help but introduce himself to her and offer his assistance only for her to disappear mysteriously from the coffee house once she has hinted at her possible fate.
Told from the point of view of Edward Catchpool, Poirot’s policeman friend from Scotland Yard, Catchpool is equally awed and infuriated by his friend. When Poirot returns to their residence in puzzlement over ‘Jennie’s Story’, Catchpool has other things on his mind. He is trying to solve the case of three murders in the Bloxham Hotel which share one unusual feature. Poirot is immediately intrigued, keen to assist in the investigation of the three murders and convinced that they could be linked to Jennie's appearance at the coffee house.
Hannah’s complex plot takes the reader back to events in 1913 when the little village of Great Holling was rocked by blasphemous revelations. Set between London and Great Holling, sixteen years has done nothing to rectify the damage wielded when lies and deceit reigned down on this small village.
Poroit and Catchpool have an array of characters to contend with, staff at the hotel, residents from the small village of Great Holling and staff from Pleasant’s Coffee House. With so many possible murderers Catchpool spends most of the novel baffled as Poirot applies his exacting methodologies to solving the crime.
This is a delightful novel that is reminiscent of Christie. Wonderful too that it is set in the 1920s with no ‘Google’ to hamper Poirot’s much lauded skills in researching historical events that impact on the crime. He is very definitely the legendary Poirot we have come to know.
Hannah dexterously keeps the reader on edge as she lays out the twists and turns of her plot in this brand new Hercule Poirot novel. It is a lovely touch that she has also dedicated the book to Agatha Christie.
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