Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Monogram Murders - Sophie Hannah and Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie created some of the most memorable and beloved characters ever to populate a mystery novel - Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. The first Poirot novel was published in 1920 and the last in 1975. Almost forty years later, Sophie Hannah was tapped to write a new novel featuring this iconic detective, with the Christie estate's blessing.

“Sophie Hannah’s idea for a plot line was so compelling and her passion for my grandmother’s work so strong, that we felt that the time was right for a new Christie to be written.” —Mathew Prichard, grandson of Agatha Christie

The Monogram Murders is set early in 1929 London, England. Poirot is taking a wee sojourn at Mrs. Blanche Unsworth's boarding house. He's also become quite enamored of the coffee at Pleasant's Coffee House. One evening, a young woman rushes into the coffee house and declares that "...It's too late. I am already dead, you see, or I shall be soon. I can't hide forever."

Well, Poirot's 'little gray cells' cannot ignore this declaration and as he is sitting pondering her words later in Mrs. Unsworth's drawing room, another resident - Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard is also pondering....on the murder of three people at the Bloxam Hotel. Poirot's little gray cells and powers of observation cannot resist the lure of such a case - and he joins Catchpool in his investigation. Hannah has chosen to narrate The Monogram Murders from Catchpool's viewpoint, as he writes down the case.

There is of course, going to be much speculation as to the result of bringing a beloved character 'back to life.' I think Hannah did a good job. She doesn't try to completely recreate Christie's style, but instead introduces her own new foil - Catchpool. I'm not completely sold on him though - I found him to be a bit pedestrian, considering he is with Scotland Yard. But, he does provide Poirot with the slate needed to display his powers of deduction. The Monogram Murders is rife with red herrings, misdirection, twists and turns. This is a mystery that demands the reader's full attention. (I missed many a clue and found myself flipping back to reread) Hannah's plot was intricate and involved, but I found myself a bit disappointed with the ending, as there was one last plot point never fully closed.

Those looking for a book written as Agatha Christie won't find it in The Monogram Murders. But those looking for a classic mystery written in the style of Christie will enjoy this book. I did. Read an excerpt of The Monogram Murders.

See what others on the TLC book tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.


Ethan said...

Interesting review. I've got a new Sydney Sheldon novel that is written by another author. While I understand that the estate may bless new novels under the author's name, I have yet to find one that lives up to the original writing. That being said, I do enjoy some of these novels. It makes me wonder if the author would be better off publishing under their own names.

trish said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for being on the tour!