Monday, October 6, 2014
‘I’m a dead woman, or I shall be soon…’
Hercule Poirot's quiet supper in a London coffeehouse 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... -- William Morrow
When I was at BEA in May, I discovered that William Morrow was publishing a new Hercule Poirot mystery. At first, I wondered if someone had found a "lost" copy of an Agatha Christie novel -- which was pretty exciting to me; however, I quickly learned that Agatha Christie estate agreed to let author Sophie Hannah write a Poirot story. It's called THE MONOGRAM MURDERS, and as far as I'm concerned, it definitely had the "feel" of an Agatha Christie book!
THE MONOGRAM MURDERS begins when Poirot is interrupted during his coffee by a woman who tells him she is about to be murdered. While obviously disturbed by this information, the woman begs Poirot not to go about finding her murder. She believes that she deserves is... that justice will be served.
Poirot then learns that three guests have been found murdered at a posh London hotel. Each one has been carefully set out with a monogrammed cuff link in his or her mouth. Poirot suspects that there is a link to these murders and the woman he encountered in a coffee shop; however, Edward Catchpool, the policeman who tells the story and someone who lives in a boardinghouse with Poirot, isn't so sure. As Catchpool investigates the murders (with a little -- or a lot of -- help from Poirot), he discovers a twisted story with continual surprises!
As a big fan of Agatha Christie's mysteries, I admit that I was both excited and cautious about THE MONOGRAM MURDERS. Naturally, I wanted to see what Ms. Hannah could do writing about one of the most famous detectives in fiction; however, I also thought I might be disappointed. I shouldn't have worried. As I read THE MONOGRAM MURDERS, I felt as if I was reading an Agatha Christie novel... and Hercule Poirot was exactly how I remembered him.
One thing I always love about Agatha Christie mysteries is that I have absolutely no idea where they are going. I am never able to figure out the mystery and I've decided that it's more fun to just go along with it and let the detectives do all of the work. That was certainly the case with THE MONOGRAM MURDERS. There were so many twists and turns that I could barely keep up. I had absolutely no idea where the story as going and the resolution of the murders was extremely complex... and unpredictable!
I think THE MONOGRAM MURDERS was a very good mystery on its own merit and I could go on and on about why, but I can't help but compare it to an Agatha Christie novel. I do think that many readers will have the exact same reaction. Suffice it to say, that this is a very entertaining mystery with some memorable characters, and I know I would have enjoyed it even if it hadn't felt like a Christ book.
However, I do think Ms. Hannah did an excellent job of giving readers the sense that they were enjoying a Christie novel. Her portrayal of Poirot was outstanding, and I loved how she decided to have Catchpool tell us the story. (He was an interesting character too!) Furthermore, I loved how she incorporated so many of Poirot's quirks into the story; and they ended up providing some humor into what could have been just a disturbing murder mystery.
Overall, THE MONOGRAM MURDERS was a very fun read. Highly recommended to fans of Agatha Christie or anyone who enjoys a complex mystery!
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.