The Monogram Murders: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery

Sophie Hannah. Morrow, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-062297-21-1
Hannah (The Orphan Choir) does a superb job of channeling Agatha Christie in this wholly successful pastiche authorized by the Christie estate. One evening in February 1929, Hercule Poirot is dining alone at a London coffee shop when a woman arrives who looks as if she had "come face to face with the devil." Poirot joins the distraught woman, known at first as Jennie, who tells the sleuth that no one can help her because she's "already dead," and that no one should search for her killer. "The crime must never be solved," she proclaims. Another cryptic remark Jennie makes before fleeing into the night—"please let no one open their mouths"—resonates with Poirot and Insp. Edward Catchpool, the Scotland Yard detective with whom he rooms, after two women and a man are found poisoned in a hotel near Piccadilly Circus, each with a monogrammed gold cuff link inserted in his or her mouth. The rest of the novel lives up to the promise of the opening, complete with dazzling deductions, subtle cluing, false endings, and superb prose. After the first chapter, Catchpool, who brings his own psychological baggage to the case, serves splendidly as the book's narrator. Lovers of classic whodunits can only hope Hannah continues to offer her take on the great Belgian detective. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/09/2014
Release date: 09/01/2014
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