My Review of Closed Casket, the new Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie Hannah

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Closed Casket: The New Hercule Poirot MysteryClosed Casket: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie Hannah

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a great whodunit. It is a complete page turner. Indeed it quickly becomes a “page re-reader” as you reach certain points where a revelation sends you back to re-read the pages with the knowledge you now have. In the grand tradition of golden age detective novels, the possibilities and impossibilities posed by the strange group of characters, gathered in an isolated mansion, boggle the mind as you try to work out who could have committed murder and why. Even psychology itself is under attack during the novel.

I’ve thought quite carefully about what else I can say without being accused of spoilers and, really, there’s not much! The blurb on the book itself talks of a house party at the Irish mansion of Lady Athelinda Playford, described as one of the world’s most beloved children’s authors, and of her announcement that she is cutting off her two children without a penny . . . and leaving her vast fortune to an invalid with weeks to live. Everything springs from that and you find that out in the first few pages of the book.

The book was commissioned by Agatha Christie Limited to extend the adventures of Hercule Poirot and follows the success of The Monogram Murders, also written by Sophie Hannah. In that book, she introduced a new foil for Poirot, Detective Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard. He reappears here, one of the guests at the house party, to narrate the tale.
The only thing I found slightly curious is that Poirot himself is absent for pages of the book, his enquiries visible only in his reports to Catchpole. However, that was less frustrating than the fact that I wanted Catchpool to ask questions like, what happened six years ago, and he never even acknowledged my request!

The setting is in the classic well-to-do late 1920s but I’ll close with a comment from one of the characters that has some resonance today: “After all, without the occasional solid fact, anyone could ask one to believe anything, and then no story is better than any other.”

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