Author: Sophie Hannah, Agatha Christie
Publishing Date: 21 May 2015
“One cannot do such harm to another and not wound one’s own soul in the process.”
I have to admit I felt a tad bit of trepidation when I first heard that there was a new Poirot novel coming out. The author Sophie Hannah was new to me; I hadn’t read any of her work. However, I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to resist reading the new Poirot novel, despite all my misgivings. The Monogram Murders proved to be a satisfactory read but in my opinion, it is not a Poirot novel in its essence. Yes, Hercule Poirot is the central character in the novel but Hannah’s Poirot is very different from Christie’s Poirot. It is a daunting task to recreate such an iconic character and Hannah has succeeded to some extent but failed in a few parts.
The Monogram Murders has a different setting and some new characters to make it different from the previous novels. Poirot, without informing anyone, has taken residence in a boarding house. Edward Catchpool (a replacement of Captain Hastings), a Scotland Yard detective is also living in the same boarding house. So, the story starts when Poirot is having a quiet dinner in a coffee shop when a woman, who is clearly distressed, rushes to him claiming that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, justice will have been done. Later that night, he comes to know of Catchpool’s new case- three corpses have been found in London’s Bloxham Hotel. Poirot is sure that the two events are linked and teams up with The Scotland Yard to solve the case.
Sophie Hannah has certainly succeeded in providing a fairly interesting plot with some twists and turns. The characters could have been interesting. Edward Catchpool comes across and naive and needing guidance. He has an aversion to bodies which is weird because he is a detective in Scotland Yard. There are certain things which will remind the reader of Christie’s Poirot when his ‘little grey cells’ work overtime but he never speaks in his true voice. The Monogram Murders is set in 1929 but Hannah has slipped in the modern world in a few instances- the characters refer to the victims by their first names, when they would probably be more formal.
Golden Age crime novels are something that you either love or just cannot read. I belong to the former. I like detectives who solve crimes with the help of observation and psychology with some help from the police in the form of clues. However in The Monogram Murders the police don’t come into the picture until well into the book. Catchpool doesn’t have a strong presence in the novel and allows Poirot to dictate him.
The only reason I chose to read The Monogram Murders was because of Hercule Poirot. I won’t say that I didn’t enjoy the novel, I actually found the mystery very interesting. I am, however, a big fan of Agatha Christie, so the Hercule Poirot in this novel, didn’t work for me. I recommend you read this book for it’s plot and not because it’s a Poirot novel