The Monogram Murders – Sophie Hannah

Confession: I have never read an Agatha Christie book. My exposure is all from TV and film adaptations. So, bear that in mind when I report that this book – a new Hercule Poirot mystery approved by the Agatha Christie estate – reads exactly as I expected. I felt I was on familiar ground, and the Poirot in these pages seemed realistic (ahem), and was as amusing and infuriating as expected.

The book is about three people apparently killed on the same day, at the same time, in three separate bedrooms of the Bloxham Hotel. The fact that this happens so shortly after a young woman tells Poirot she is to be murdered (and yest is not among the first victims) sets Poirot’s heart racing. Coincidence? Or is the girl in danger?

Poirot is hindered by Catchpool, the man from Scotland Yard, who acts as the usual slow foil for Porot, with the occasional streak of insight that sets the Belgian off on a new trail. Catchpool is just above the level of cardboard cutout. That may be traditional, but it would have been interesting to see the author shy spread her wings a little here.

The book is full of twists and turns and surprises, coming dangerously close to overdoing it. However, on balance, it’s just about right, and delivers a reasonable rendition of a classic old style murder mystery. ┬áSo, not bad but not great. Compared to Moriarty, I think this has less appeal. It’s not as well written and seems a touch staid. Hopefully the author will get the chance to develop her skills in this setting, as there is a demand for the character, and I get the impression there is more (and better) to come.