Thursday, September 8, 2016

Closed Casket - Sophie Hannah

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. Forty odd years later, Sophie Hannah was tapped to write a new novel featuring this iconic detective, with the Christie estate's blessing. That first novel was The Monogram Murders.

The latest Poirot novel from Hannah is the newly released Closed Casket.

Hannah introduced us to a new character in The Monogram Murders - Scotland Yard Detective Edward Catchpool.

1929. In Closed Casket, both Poirot and Catchpool are invited as guests to the estate of children's writer Lady Athelinda Playford. (I loved the references to her character Shrimp Seddon) Why, they both wonder? It becomes apparent that 'Athie' is worried that her planned announcement to a house full of staff, family and guests may provoke someone - to murder. Despite Poirot and Catchpool's efforts to thwart any such attempt, a murder does occur. The local, somewhat inept, Garda insist that no one leave the house. And so, Poirot and Catchpool begin their own investigation. I was somewhat reminded of Christie's And Then There Were None in which the murderer can only be one of the residents of the house.

I wasn't sold on Catchpool in the last book - he came off as somewhat pedestrian and seemed to be only there to serve as narrator and blank slate for Poirot. I'm happy to say that Hannah has filled out this character, given him more of a personality and yes, more of a brain. In this book, he is part of the investigation, with his own thoughts and deductions, not merely a foil for Poirot's ideas.

But it is Poirot's 'little gray cells' that drive the investigation. I always have enjoyed the deductions, the piecing together, the reasoning, the seemingly innocuous clue tucked into a paragraph along the way. Christie - and Hannah - force the reader to pay attention. The whodunit can change rapidly as each new revelation is revealed. There is no way to successfully guess who the culprit is. Hannah successfully captures Poirot's style, mannerisms, dialogue and idiosyncrasies.

Hannah has also recreated Christie's traditional mystery style in Closed Casket. The estate setting, the quirky bunch of suspects and the convoluted path to the final culprit. I adored the final reveal in the drawing room - such a civilized discussion of murder. (The dialogue in the book is just excellent - clever, humourous and cutting.) There's much to be said for 'old style' investigations.

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

Cr:Phillipa Gedge
"Sophie Hannah is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous psychological thrillers, which have been published in 27 countries and adapted for television, as well as The Monogram Murders, the first Hercule Poirot novel authorized by the estate of Agatha Christie."  Connect with Sophie Hannah through her website, or find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

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

"Agatha Christie is the most widely published author of all time, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. Her books have sold more than a billion copies in English and another billion in a hundred foreign languages. She died in 1976." Learn more about Agatha Christie through her official website.


bermudaonion said...

I'm glad to see this was well done!

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

I'm a big fan of "old school" mysteries like Christie's and Doyle's books. This latest Poirot story is right up my alley!

Thanks for being a part of the tour.