Monday, September 26, 2016

Review: Closed Casket

Summary: "What I intend to say to you will come as a shock..."

With these words, Lady Athelinda Playford -- one of the world's most beloved children's authors -- springs a surprise on the lawyer entrusted with her will. As guests arrive for a party at her Irish mansion, Lady Playford has decided to cut off her two children without a penny . . . and leave her vast fortune to someone else: an invalid who has only weeks to live.

Among Lady Playford's visitors are two strangers: the famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, and Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard. Neither knows why he has been invited -- until Poirot begins to wonder if Lady Playford expects a murder. But why does she seem so determined to provoke a killer? And why -- when the crime is committed despite Poirot's best efforts to stop it -- does the identity of the victim make no sense at all? -- William Morrow

I was so excited to discover that there is another "Agatha Christie" novel out there. No, I don't mean a new book written by Ms. Christie. Rather, it's a new book based on Agatha Christie's novels written by the talented writer, Sophie Hannah. I read THE MONOGRAM MURDERS a few years ago and thought Ms. Hannah did an excellent job of capturing the essence of Ms. Christie's novels, and CLOSED CASKET is another terrific mystery!

CLOSED CASKET is a complex story that will have readers scratching their head from the very start. Lady Athelinda Playford, a famous children's mystery writer, has invited both Hercule Poirot and Edward Catchpool, a Scotland Yard detective who is also the narrator of the novel, to her home with no explanation. At dinner the first night, she tells her two children, along with her other guests, that she's decided to change her will. Rather than leaving her fortune to her two children, she's decided to leave it all to her secretary Joseph Scotcher. As if that's not surprising enough, Mr. Scotcher is suffering from Bright's disease and only has a few weeks to live.

It dawns on Poirot and Catchpool that maybe Lady Playford has invited them to her house to prevent her own murder. However, when Scotcher is found brutally murdered in the parlor, things get even more confusing. Why would someone kill Scotcher when he is gravely ill? Things become even more complicated when there is a witness to the beating, and her story doesn't seem to add up. It's up to Poirot and Catchpool to conduct their own investigation... while staying out of the way of the the real inspector.

And truly that's just the beginning of the twists and turns in CLOSED CASKET. Nothing was really as it seemed especially pertaining to the character of Joseph Scotcher. Needless to say, I had no idea what the heck occurred at Lady Playford's estate; and I loved how convoluted the mystery was. Perhaps my favorite part of this entire novel was when the murderer was finally revealed. Everything suddenly made sense (as it should in a well-written mystery), and I was totally surprised by the motive!

Once again, I have to give a tremendous amount of credit to Ms. Hannah. It can't be easy to write an Agatha Christie novel, but I think she's outdone herself with this one. I actually felt as if I could be reading a novel by Ms. Christie; and I loved the well-plotted story, the interesting characters, and the humor she included in the story. She even managed to capture the essence of the quirky Belgian detective Poirot.

Overall, I love that Sophie Hannah has taken on the challenge of writing Agatha Christie novels. I will continue to read every single one she writes because I love these well-written and smart mysteries! Highly recommended.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

I'm always nervous when a new author takes over another's legacy. I'm glad to see this is done well.