Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Review: The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah

Sophie Hannah has a new Hercule Poirot mystery out and Kerry Hammond is eager to give us her review.

The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah is the third in the series featuring Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. It was published on August 28, in hardcover by William Morrow. The first in the series, The Monogram Murders, brought back one of the most famous sleuths in literary history. Fans of Agatha Christie and the traditional British mystery were able to revisit with an old friend and read a new story. Closed Casket was the second in the series and continued to follow Poirot’s investigations, this time the detective is present when the murder takes place but is unable to stop it.

In The Mystery of Three Quarters, the reader immediately feels like they have entered an Agatha Christie story. Four people have received a letter accusing them of the murder of a man named Barnabas Pandy, all signed by Hercule Poirot. There are two problems with this: 1) Barnabas Pandy did indeed die, but the police believed there was no foul play, and 2) Poirot didn’t write the letters. Each of the four people confront Poirot, with differing levels of outrage. He continues to explain his innocence, but his interest is piqued and he begins to wonder if Mr. Pandy’s death is more than what the police originally thought.

Poirot, with the help of Scotland Yard detective Edward Catchpool, looks into Pandy’s death as well as the background of each of the people who received a letter containing his forged signature. He finds the puzzle to be especially difficult to understand and the more he investigates, the more he wonders just what each of the suspects has in common and why they were targeted. Catchpool is our Hastings-like narrator, following along as Poirot uses his little grey cells to solve the case. The Scotland Yard detective takes on more of an investigative role than Hastings ever did, but his skills still pale in comparison to the great Hercule Poirot—as they should!

I’ve read each of Hannah’s Poirot mysteries and can honestly say they get better and better as the series continues. I love the plots and characters, which remind me so much of Christie’s work. There is enough of Hannah’s own voice that still make the books hers, and that’s somehow comforting. She’s not trying to impersonate the Queen of Mystery, she is merely carrying on in her absence with enough skill to please Christie’s fans and honor her legacy. I hope to see many more books in this series.

This book was provided to Mystery Playground by the publisher. The review is fair and independent.

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