The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah
Published by HarperCollins
9th September 2014
Hercule Poirot's quiet supper in a London coffee house in 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, and a cufflink has been 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...
Blimey, there's been some controversy about this book. Die-hard Christie fans have sworn that they won't buy it, and are horrified it's been allowed to be published at all! Well, I'm a die-hard Christie fan! I have every book she's written, in more than one format, including a first edition, and a signed edition! Did I say in a horrified voice, that I would never read this book? Absolutely not, in fact, when I heard that Sophie Hannah was writing this, I was straight onto Twitter to beg for a copy!
Now it's been published, reviews have been mixed by the general public. I don't usually read reviews of something I'm reviewing myself, but I took exception for this book. Again, it seems to be the 'die-hards' that are putting out the negative reviews - Poirot wouldn't do this, or that, or the other. Let's step back a moment though, and remember that Sophie Hannah never set out to copy Agatha Christie, she is merely writing a book that features one of her characters. It was never meant to be a Christie book.
So, having read it, what's my opinion? I loved it. There are no characters other than Poirot from Christie's writing, and I think actually that that is what makes it work. If Hastings, or Miss Lemon, or even Inspector Japp had made an appearance, then yes, we would be treading onto Christie territory and that's not what this is about.
Poirot comes across a distressed young woman who believes her life is in danger, but then she flees the coffee shop where they have met, and Poirot is at a loss about what to do. However, he doesn't have long to worry because across the streets of London, three people have been murdered at the Bloxham Hotel, and the young Edward Catchpool, of Scotland Yard, needs his assistance. Catchpool is also our narrator, and I loved his character, he is both equally in admiration and frustrated by Poirot and is not afraid of speaking his mind. Poirot is desperate to 'help' Catchpool use his 'little grey cells' by refusing to help him work out clues and solutions to these 'Monogram Murders' and too frequently Catchpool is the last to know what is going on. Alongside him, is Fee Spring, a waitress at the coffee shop where out story begins. She is a bright young woman, who is very observant, and wastes no time in trying to be a part of the investigation.
There are twists, turns and a red herring or two, before Poirot ultimately reveals 'whodunnit'. I loved it, it kept flowing, and I really think that Sophie Hannah has captured Poirot's voice perfectly. As I read, I could hear him, in his distinct Belgium accent, talking along beside me. Will there be a sequel to The Monogram Murders? It's not been revealed yet, but if there were, I'd be first in the queue to get one. I think Mrs Christie would be thrilled by this book, and as a fan, I am too!