Author: Sophie Hannah, 2014.
Genre: Period Fiction. 1920s England. Murder Mystery.
Other Details: Hardback. 374 pages.
Hercule Poirot's quiet supper in a London coffee house is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified, but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done. Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London hotel have been murdered, and a cufflink has been placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman?
While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim… - synopsis from the Agatha Christie website.
The narrator of the novel and foil for Poirot is Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard. Poor chap is rather browbeaten by the famous detective and any sense of police procedures are ignored. That probably is in the spirit of the originals though.
It's been many years since I have read any of the original Agatha Christie mysteries so it is impossible for me to judge how well Sophie Hannah has done with the commission by the Christie family to write this new Hercule Poirot mystery. Reading the reviews in newspapers the novel does seem to have been well received.
Still I do recall being annoyed by Christie's tendency to have her detectives withhold information from the reader so that there is little chance to figure out whodunit in advance. In that sense Sophie Hannah has continued this tradition and after a while it became rather annoying.
I love Hannah's psychological thrillers but she isn't known for cosy mysteries so she seems an odd choice. The plot was very convoluted and while I did enjoy it this complexity at times felt a bit too much . I also am not sure that this modern tendency for the estates of authors to commission new novels 'in the style of' is a good idea.
'The Monogram Murders' on Agatha Christie website - includes background details and downloadable first chapter.