Hannah Dennison is the author of Death at High Tide (Minotaur, Aug.), a “winning series launch,” PW’s review said, that offers a “twist on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.”
“Christie’s stories encapsulate the entirety of human nature in a small setting. I live in a village myself—very close to Burgh Island [which inspired the setting for And Then There Were None]—and it’s always fascinating to think about what’s going on under the surface. Her settings have influenced me, and I always have the drawing room discussion. Christie fandom is like osmosis, like how everyone knows the words to the Beatles’ songs. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know about Christie.”
Sophie Hannah writes the authorized Poirot continuation novels, which began with 2014’s The Monogram Murders. PW’s starred review said the fourth pastiche, The Killings at Kingfisher Hill (Morrow, Sept.), displays Hannah’s “superior ability to devise mind-blowing setups” and will please “fans of classic fair-play puzzle mysteries.”
“Christie’s books set the blueprint in my mind for what the ideal crime novel should do or be. Her mysteries are just so much more mysterious than the average. Most crime novels start with: here’s a dead body, here’s a suspect, let’s figure out what happened. But she starts out with a hook. The reader thinks: ‘I can’t imagine any possible solution, this is impossible,’ and then they have to read on. Her plotting is ingenious and unpredictable—you can never be one step ahead of her, because she’s always going to do something surprising. All the crime novels I wrote, even before the Poirot books, used this idea of the impossible mystery.”
Anthony Horowitz’s forthcoming Christie homage, Moonflower Murders (Harper, Nov.), follows 2017’s Magpie Murders, which PW’s starred review called “a treat for fans of golden age mysteries.”
“She was meticulous in her plotting, and I try to be the same. I also borrowed her idea of naming books after nursery rhymes—she had Five Little Pigs; One, Two, Buckle My Shoe; and A Pocket Full of Rye—in Magpie Murders. She finds so many permutations on the very few reasons there are to kill someone—you are afraid of them, you hate them, or they know something about you—and explores every possible variation on those themes.”
Alex Pavesi makes a “cerebral debut,” PW’s review said, with The Eighth Detective (Holt, Aug.), which, like Dennison’s Death at High Tide, evokes And Then There Were None.
“I had fun playing with the tropes and exploring how useful they are from a storytelling point of view. Christie closes off the location, so there’s a finite group of suspects. An evil patriarch or matriarch ends up dead, and because no one liked them, anyone could be a suspect.”
R.V. Raman is an Indian crime novelist making his U.S. debut with a Christie-style summoning-of-the-heirs mystery, A Will to Kill (Agora, Oct.).
“I couldn’t find a Christie-esque novel set in India, so I set out to write one. I picked a mansion in the colonial hills of South India, because it felt very English—the cool climate, the fog. It’s where the British used to retreat in the summer. I got together this limited number of suspects and gave them all their shot. Christie’s works are wonderful puzzles—they’re great fun to read, and it’s fun to be alongside the detective and take your own shot at solving the crime.”
Ruth Ware’s latest is One by One (Scout, Sept.), “a tempestuous locked-room mystery,” PW’s review said, set at a French Alps resort.
“Christie imprinted on me what a crime novel should be: the pleasures it should contain, the back-and-forth between the author’s attempt to seize the reader while being fair to them and the reader’s desire to see around corners and figure out plot twists. Her novels end with that perfect aha!—maybe you’ve figured it out, maybe you haven’t, but when you find out the solution you say: of course. That’s what I’m hoping for when I get to the end of my books—I want my readers to feel that they had all the information they needed. The setting of One by One feels very much like Murder on the Orient Express: stifled luxury in what should be a dream setting, but instead it’s a nightmare.”
Ovidia Yu continues her Crown Colony series with The Mimosa Tree Mystery (Constable, Sept.). She’s also the author of the Singaporean Mystery series about a busybody amateur sleuth; PW’s review of book three, Aunty Lee’s Chilled Revenge, said “fans of Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher will find much to enjoy.”
“Miss Marple is a great-granny of Aunty Lee, not because she’s unassuming, but because the point of Miss Marple is that you can see the whole range of behavior in one little village because people are the same everywhere. Aunty Yu likes gossip, and likes food, and understands people—Miss Marple doesn’t judge, and neither does she. Christie influenced the whole genre; you can’t help but be influenced by her. People say her views were old-fashioned, but she was equal-opportunity: Poirot was ‘foreign’ and a lot of her terrible people are white upper class. She made everybody bad. Anybody—the least likely—could be the murderer.”