It’s been 100 years since Agatha Christie first introduced the world to her Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Last year, bestselling crime author Sophie Hannah released The Monogram Murders: a brand new, entirely original Poirot novel, published with full permission from the Christie estate. The Monogram Murders was a huge success and now Hannah’s done it again with Closed Casket.
Poirot is back, and he’s been mysteriously invited to the house of Lady Athelinda Playford in County Cork. Lady Playford is a whip-smart (although slightly eccentric) children’s book author, but she’s made a huge decision that baffles Poirot and her other guests. She’s changing her will to completely exclude her two children and instead leave all her fortune to her young secretary Joseph Scotcher, who is charismatic, kind – and already dying of a terminal illness. When this is revealed at dinner, Poirot and the other guests, including Lady Playford’s lawyers, both her children and their partners, are stunned.
The cast of suspects are both entertaining and duplicitous, and you’re never quite sure who, if anyone, is trustworthy. The identity of the body that is inevitably found in the parlour will surprise you, and in true Christie style, the twists, turns, and red herrings will have you quickly flipping the pages to find out whodunnit.
For Poirot fans, reading this book feels like settling back in your seat to have a long overdue catchup with an old friend, as Hannah has stayed very true to Christie’s portrait of the beloved detective. As the narrator Detective Catchpool remarks (who readers will remember was also at Poirot’s side in The Monogram Murders, and is certainly reminiscent of Christie’s Captain Hastings), “I could not help chuckling at the egg-shaped head and the shiny shoes, both so familiar, and of course the unmistakable moustaches.” More than anything else, the Belgian detective takes it as a personal insult that anyone would dare to commit a murder in the same house as Hercule Poirot and believe they could ever get away with it….
Sophie Hannah says that when she was thinking about how to follow-up The Monogram Murders, she knew she needed the right idea, one that felt ‘very Agatha-ish.’ When a motive for murder popped into her head that was ‘so simple, it almost seemed too obvious’ but that hadn’t been done before, it was the perfect reason to bring Poirot back to solve the case.
Although the motive in Closed Casket may be simple (it can be summarised in four words or less), it’s a fiendishly challenging task to solve it before Poirot – and although we failed, it was a lot of fun to try. Fans who have exhausted their rereads of the Christie classics will enjoy this one, and Sophie Hannah has clearly relished the task of making readers test their own ‘little grey cells!’
Click here to learn more or to purchase a copy of Closed Casket!