Author: Sophie Hannah
Publication Date: 23 August 2018
“Often, the important thing to be noticed is a thing that is not there.”
I have a soft spot for Agatha Christie, particularly those stories that feature her brilliant detective Hercule Poirot. So I was excited to know that Sophie Hannah was going to recreate Poirot in a new series of mysteries. She has done a good job recreating the Belgian detective. The Monogram Murders and The Closed Casket were the first two books in the series. The former was a good read but I did not enjoy the latter so much. Hannah’s version of Poirot is, naturally quite different from Agatha Christie’s but I suggest the reader to give these mysteries a try.
The Mystery of Three Quarters is the third book in Hannah’s Poirot series. It is set in the 1930s in London. Hercule Poirot is returning from a luncheon when he is met by an imperious woman, who introduces herself as Sylvia Rule. She demands to know why Poirot has sent her a letter accusing of murdering Barnabas Pandy. She threatens a perplexed Poirot with a lawsuit and leaves. Minutes later, another man named John McCrodden accuses Poirot of sending a letter similar to that of Sylvia Rule. Poirot, calmly, rebuts the charge. The same incident is repeated the next day. Two strangers proclaim their innocence and reveal illuminating details to Poirot. Miss Annabel Treadway tells Poirot that Barnabas Pandy was her grandfather. He was not murdered; his death was an accident. Hugo Dockerill, also knew Pandy and confirms Miss Treadway’s version.
The question is why is someone sending letters in Poirot’s name accusing people of murder? If Pandy’s death death was an accident, why charge foul play? Someone’s playing mischief and wants Poirot to be involved. Poirot, along with Edward Catchpool, begins an investigation, using his grey cells to solve an elaborate puzzle of tangled relationships, scandalous secrets and past misdeeds.
The Mystery of Three Quarters is by far the best novel in the series. I liked the setting of the novel. I love English country mysteries and this one was quiet good. However, I felt the plot was long and dragged out. There were a few chapters towards the end, which I thought, were unnecessary. The plot could have been a little complex like the original Christie novels where Poirot stands stroking his mustaches, before making his play. I do understand that Hannah is not Christie and there are obviously going to be a few differences in her approach. But I do feel that there should have been more ingenious plot-twists and some misdirection. I feel it is essential to a Poirot novel.
The Mystery of Three Quarters had a distinct lack of atmosphere, which is always present in Christie’s writings. I liked how strong and well-developed each character was. The characters had good backstories and there were no loopholes in the story. The plot, though long, was detailed and the conclusion was satisfying. I enjoyed reading this novel, mainly because of Poirot.
Read it if you miss the Poirot novels but I would suggest that you don’t draw any comparisons with Christie’s Poirot novels.