Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book Review: The Monogram Murders, By Sophie Hannah

It's Agatha Christie week on Mystery Playground and everywhere else in the free mystery world.  So we're reviewing the new Hercule Poirot mystery, written by Sophie Hannah in the spirit of Agatha Christie.

I'm a big Poirot fan, so much so that I haven't watched the final episode of the David Suchet Poirot series, Curtain because I don't want it to end. (Even though I read the book years ago and know how it ends.) And I'm not the only one who misses Hercule. There's a new Poirot book, written by Sophie Hannah, approved by the Christie estate. The book is called the Monogram Murders, and it came out last week. 

Stepping into the sensible walking shoes of Agatha Christie, is not an easy feat. I'll admit that I'm of the "let's create something new" crowd rather than extending the old past the life of the author. So, I approached this book with some skepticism. I also knew when I opened the book that it wouldn’t be exactly like Agatha wrote it herself, because she didn't. 

But picking up The Monogram Murders is like visiting a friend you haven't seen in twenty years. They aren't exactly the person you knew back then, but your friendship is still there, and it's great to see them. 

After the first chapter, I forgot to keep comparing Christie's original books to this book because I was thoroughly entertained. 

The book begins when Hercule Poirot meets a young woman, named Jennie, who tells him that she is about to be murdered. She seems resigned to her imminent death because "justice will be done." 

Of course, Poirot doesn't believe that she deserves to die, and he can't get additional information out of her before she disappears. Of course, we all know Poirot's crime solving track record is galactically better than his crime prevention record. He knows that too, and this encounter sticks with him. 

Soon, Poirot is embroiled in another case - this time three people have been poisoned in separate hotel rooms in the same London hotel. Jennie is not among the victims, but Poirot can't help but wonder, as events unfold, if these murders tie back to her plight. And so the intricate plot begins to unfold. 

Since we don't do spoilers on Mystery Playground, I can't tell you anymore. But I can tell you another obvious way that this book deviates from the Christie books. Hannah changed up the narrator in this book from the amiable Captain Hastings to a new character, Scotland Yard Detective, Edward Catchpool. 

I missed Hastings and Inspector Japp, but I liked spending time with Catchpool. 

To my mind, Hannah did a great job with her daunting task. 

Of course, the true test of the ages will be if someone who's never read Agatha Christie picks this book up and it inspires them to go back and read more original Poirot. 

For those who would like to give The Monogram Murders a try before buying it, can find the first chapter downloadable in multiple languages on the Agatha Christie website  

I do hope Hannah is working on the next one. I miss Poirot already. 

And before you go, don't forget to enter our Agatha Christie giveaway...


  1. Since I haven't read a Poirot book in a long time I might be more accepting. I have noticed I miss the original author's voice in all series that have been continued by someone else. Nice, but not quite the same.

  2. I pre-ordered this book and it just arrived a few days ago. It's at the top of my pile.

  3. I am always skeptical about new authors in old authors shoes. Glad to hear that is one succeeds. Will look forward to reading it. Thank-you.

  4. Wow Kerry, I hope you really, really like it.