I’ll let you into a secret. I have an irrational aversion to Agatha Christie Poirot books because they remind me of having my tonsils out in my mid 20s! I had chosen one of the stories to read in hospital and I can’t escape the association.
However, with Sophie Hannah one of our Deepings Literary Festival authors last month in an event I couldn’t attend because I was with another author, I just had to choose her Poirot story The Monogram Murders as the next book for the U3A reading group to which I belong. I’m delighted to share my review today and am looking forward to seeing what the rest of the group think when we meet next.
Published by Harper Collins The Monogram Murders is available for purchase in all forms through the publisher links.
The Monogram Murders
Hercule Poirot’s quiet supper in a London coffee house 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. 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…
In the hands of internationally bestselling author Sophie Hannah, Poirot plunges into a mystery set in 1920s London – a diabolically clever puzzle that can only be solved by the talented Belgian detective and his ‘little grey cells’.
My Review of The Monogram Murders
Poirot is taking a break but it doesn’t stop him getting involved in investigating a series of murders at the Bloxham Hotel.
The Monogram Murders is like stepping back to the heights of Agatha Christie’s fame because Sophie Hannah writes with an authentic tone and style that I found indistinguishable from Christie’s own. The setting of an upper class hotel in Bloxham’s, the tea rooms, the lodging house, the small village and so on all provide a setting that is perfect for a Poirot mystery so that I felt transported to the era completely.
Sophie Hannah’s Poirot is an absolute triumph. Whilst it’s difficult to eradicate David Suchet’s television persona from the mind’s eye, it is the fabulous arrogance and the cadences of Poirot’s speech that are so convincing in creating his character in The Monogram Murders. The author made me feel exactly how Edward Catchpool must feel as he struggles to follow the intricacies of Poirot’s little grey cells. Poirot lives and breathes through this writing making The Monogram Murders a real treat for Agatha Christie fans.
All of the characters fit the Christie model flawlessly. There’s very much a middle class strand that has considerable snobbishness and contempt for the working class. Many people in the story are almost caricatures and yet this is exactly as it should be to produce a convincing Agatha Christie style text. Sophie Hannah displays dexterous skill in creating just the right tone and attitudes, but with a modern freshness too
Sophie Hannah’s plot in The Monogram Murders is quite complex so that I had to concentrate quite hard to ensure I followed all the twists and turns and it didn’t surprise me at all that Poirot is privy to information and theories that none of the characters have access to, because this is what I expect from Agatha Christie. Again, this feature added to my enjoyment of the read. I have to say that this fiendish plotting is exemplary and I have no idea just how the author managed to weave the components together quite so seamlessly.
I confess I hadn’t especially looked forward to reading The Monogram Murders, but in fact Sophie Hannah writes so convincingly that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I found it very entertaining, authentic and great fun. I’ll certainly be reading more in the future regardless of my missing tonsils!
About Sophie Hannah
Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling crime fiction writer. Her crime novels have been translated into 34 languages and published in 51 countries. Her psychological thriller The Carrier won the Specsavers National Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year in 2013. In 2014 and 2016, Sophie published The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket, the first new Hercule Poirot mysteries since Agatha Christie’s death, both of which were national and international bestsellers.
Sophie’s novels The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives have been adapted for television as Case Sensitive, starring Olivia Williams and Darren Boyd. Sophie is also a bestselling poet who has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE and A-level throughout the UK. Sophie is an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. She lives in Cambridge with her husband, two children and dog.