I read the Monogram Murders as part of my Octobathon (see below) choices and it was a fantastic one to start with.
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…
As a massive fan of Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple and the rest of Agatha Christie’s wonderful creations, when I discovered that there was a new one coming out I was extremely excited! Fortunately my library was in the process of ordering a few copies so I added my name to the rather long list. Unfortunately as soon as I received it, it was nabbed by the parental authorities for their own nefarious reading and I had to wait – entirely far too long if I’m honest!
In London, Hercule Poirot’s dinner in a local coffee house is interrupted when a young woman called Jennie comes in, hiding from an unknown assailant, professing that she is next to be murdered. The story mainly takes place in London, around the Bloxham Hotel (a fictional place I believe). Edward Catchpool, a Scotland Yard detective is called to the hotel after the bodies of three people are found in rooms of the hotel. Calling upon the great detective Hercule Poirot, he and Catchpool are swiftly on hand to tackle this mystery. Catchpool takes over the role formerly held by Arthur Hastings as the student and sounding board to Poirot. He is also the main narrator of the story and it is written from his point of view. I very much enjoyed the narration and the new point of view from Hastings. The character of Catchpool is a fantastic way for the audience to interact with and understand the plot. From the half-explanations or little hints made by Poirot, the audience has a friend in the narrator who half the time doesn’t understand himself. This explanation and conversation is something which I love in a mystery or crime book. I may not move from A to J to Z like Poirot, but I can certainly have a good go – especially with the aid of a 3rd party like Catchpool.
The mystery itself was a real muddle and the narrator and reader both do end up terribly confused at times – at least I did! The author has done a fantastic job of not just continuing the work of Agatha Christie, but building upon it. It isn’t the same by any means and should not be taken so. This is a work by a completely different author and I really hope Sophie Hannah writes lots more.
Rating: ♥♥♥♥ – I loved it.