Monday, 4 January 2016

The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

Hercule Poirot's quiet supper 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 the fashionable Bloxham Hotel have been murdered, a cufflink placed in each one's mouth. While Poirot struggles to connect the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares a hotel bedroom for a fourth victim.

I am very fond of classic literature and tend to approach books that recreate a classic character with some trepidation. 

I read a goodly number of Agatha Christie novels when I was in my late teens. Clearly, that was more years ago than I care to mention, so I can not quite recall her exact writing style. Therefore, I approached this book more on it's own merit rather than as a direct comparison of Agatha Christie and I think Ms Hannah  has pulled it off quite  well.

One thing I do remember about reading Agatha Christie and that is that they were rather formulaic and once I had read a few of her stories I was generally able to work out 'who dunnit' at a fairly early point. However, I think Ms Hannah used far more twists and turns and kept me guessing pretty much until the inevitable reveal scene so typical of Poirot.

However, I was disappointed that I was not able to reengage with Inspector Japp, Hastings and his flawless secretary, Miss Lemon. Instead we are introduced to a  policeman friend of Poirot's, Mr Catchpool of Scotland Yard who I can only describe as rather wishy washy.

So, did I enjoy my reacquaintance with  Poirot? Yes, I did. The plot was much more involved than the original Christie's ever were but I felt that Ms Hannah had hit the mark in aiming this at a 21st century reading audience.

In addition, it has left me wanting more and I think I shall be revisiting my not-so misspent youth and re-reading some of the Agatha Christie novels I read in my teens. Whatsmore, I won't have cassette tapes, acne and the Bay City Rollers to distract me this time!

ISBN: 9780007547449

Publisher: Harper Collins

Price (based on Amazon): Paperback £3.85 - Kindle £1.49

About the Author:

Sophie has also published five collections of poetry. Her fifth, Pessimism for Beginners, was shortlisted for the 2007 T S Eliot Award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE, A-level and degree level across the UK. From 1997 to 1999 she was Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge, and between 1999 and 2001 she was a fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford. 

Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling writer of psychological crime fiction, published in 27 countries. In 2013, her latest novel, The Carrier, won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards. Two of Sophie’s crime novels, The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives, have been adapted for television and appeared on ITV1 under the series title Case Sensitive in 2011 and 2012. In 2004, Sophie won first prize in the Daphne Du Maurier Festival Short Story Competition for her suspense story The Octopus Nest, which is now published in her first collection of short stories, The Fantastic Book of Everybody’s Secrets. 

She is forty-one and lives with her husband and children in Cambridge, where she is a Fellow Commoner at Lucy Cavendish College. She is currently working on a new challenge for the little grey cells of Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s famous detective. 

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