Book corner: a new take on murder with Hercule Poirot
Sophie Hannah has written several highly acclaimed psychological murder mysteries. Her novel The Carrier won the 2013 National Book Awards Crime Thriller of the year. Her latest book, Closed Casket, centres on her version of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot
In 2013, The Christie Estate commissioned Sophie Hannah to revive Agatha Christie's beloved character Hercule Poirot. Hannah went on to write and release The Monogram Murders, opening up the series to a whole new generation.
The book proved to be very successful and Hannah was given the blessing to write another Poirot mystery.
In the newly released Closed Casket Hannah has observed meticulously all of the intricacies of style and motivation in which Christie used throughout her books, and has unquestionably captured the charm and hauteur of the renowned Belgian detective.
What’s the story?
The novel is set in the 1920s and as you would expect Poirot still relies on ‘his little grey cells’. In fact throughout the book, there is a heavy emphasis on the psychological symptoms of all the characters including the grumpy Brigid, the cook, and Phyllis her downtrodden kitchen and household helper.
All the characters have some substance and possess enough hidden and suppressed psychological eccentricities to provide a hundred misleading by-roads to be travelled on the way to unearthing the truth.
The action is set in the mansion of Lady Playford. There is a central macabre humour in Hannah's plots and characters so it is not surprising to find that on the evening of the first assembly, Lady Playford pronounces that she has signed a will that disinherits her son and daughter in favour of another member of the household. Her husband has died and she has a vast fortune in her hands.
Sophie Hannah has also written five collections of poetry. Her skill with language enhances her characters and their conversations, allowing her to eventually strip away the deceits to unravel a very convoluted construct and arrive at an almost believable solution. In the final Drawing Room assembly Poirot begins with an inimitable introduction:
‘This is not by any means the first murder I have investigated. It is however, one of the most straightforward. So many questions I have wrestled with, and yet the solution to this problem is breathtakingly simple – quite alarmingly so.’
Ian’s final verdict
Closed Casket makes for an engaging and enjoyable experience as you meander through lies and half truths that will make you ‘dip your lid’ to Poirot and the author. It may not match Christie, but it is very well done. A great read.
What do you think of Hannah’s version of Poirot? Let us know in the comments section below.
(Featured image: theredlist.com)