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The Monogram Murders
New Hercule Poirot Mystery

Sophie Hannah

21 May 2015/ ISBN 9780007547449
Mystery / Historical

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde


Poirot is enjoying a meal one evening in Pleasant’s Coffee House when a distraught young woman comes hurrying in, saying that she is about to be murdered. She vanishes again into the night, leaving Poirot wondering what he can do. Meanwhile at the Bloxham Hotel three people have been found dead, each laid out as if for burial and with a monogrammed cufflink in their mouth. It is up to Poirot and Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard to discover whodunit, and why.

Writing a new Poirot novel is no easy task if you are not Agatha Christie. Set in 1929, this is a tale from the beginning of Poirot’s career as a private detective and he does come to some sort of life, just not exactly what we are expecting. He has a lot more to say, does not mind fresh air so much and seems keen to hoard information rather than share it. Ms Hannah has concocted a tortuous, twisty tale of old sins casting long shadows which to say any more about would spoil, one point in the novel’s favor. Agatha herself would have penned a more succinct story that would hit the ground running (as this actually does) and then stay running until the end. This tale takes the scenic route, with more talk than action in the first hundred pages; it is the characters that are more interesting than the clues. We don’t really get to know them until Catchpool takes a train to Great Holling and then things take off as we are introduced to the victims and everybody else to do with the events of 1913. Catchpool tells most of the story in his own words, and combines Hastings’ naivety with Japp’s role as an actual policeman. Unlike these other sidekicks Catchpool actually runs from the crime scene, is upset by dead bodies and seems so unsuited for police work that it is surprising that he is a Scotland Yard detective. Poirot does the detecting, with a baffled Catchpool in his wake, mostly without any other police backup. For me, the most Agatha Christie character was the sharp, insightful waitress Fee with her understanding of human nature and burning ambition to run her own teashop. I would be interested to read any subsequent Poirot novels by this author, but hopefully these would not involve Catchpool.

Reviews of other titles by this author

The Affair of the Pink Pearl & Finessing the King [audio]
Philomel Cottage and other Stories [audio]
Black Coffee (w/Charles Osborne)
Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly
Murder on the Orient Express 1 (Murder in the Calais Coach)
Murder on the Orient Express 2 (Movie Tie-In) [book]
Murder on the Orient Express 3 (Movie Tie-In) [audio]

And Then There Were None (Ten Little Indians)
While the Light Lasts
After the Funeral
The Monogram Murders (w/Sophie Hannah)
Agatha Christie; An Autobiography
Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making

Reviewed 2015