Having progressed through a vast number of novels and works by Agatha Christie, I think I can safely say that I know what I like in regards to her literature and it was for this reason that I was, somewhat, apprehensive in commencing to read The Monogram Murders by already established author, Sophie Hannah. This is because, in my experience, re-made or ‘inherited’ stories seldom stay true to their original plot and sound somewhat fake. How wrong I was…
The story is set in the early years of Poirot’s sleuthing career and, although a bold choice, Hannah distinctly captures the social majesty and opulence of the art deco heyday, bringing Poirot back in all his former glory. The premise itself is utterly intriguing: Poirot, dining alone in a backstreet coffee house, meets a young woman called Jenny; except, this is not a meeting that Poirot will likely forget – Jenny fears she is going to be murdered. She knows this because she has knowledge of the murders already being committed that very evening. Poirot wishes to seek the truth, Jenny does not. With her death she believes that justice will have been served.
With that, Poirot is drawn into the case of Scotland Yard, which is investigating three deaths at the famous and disgustingly expensive Bloxham Hotel. But the story is far more complicated than it may seem to you or I. Poirot delves deep into the lives of the victims and discovers tales of heartbreak, lies and suicide. Scotland Yard is seemingly stumped, so it is up to Hercule Poirot and his legendary powers of deduction to find and bring a cold-hearted killer to justice.
As is plainly evident, Sophie Hannah has emulated the style of the late Queen of Crime so perfectly. The plot is as fast-paced and exciting as Agatha Christie’s best novels and, in keeping with the style, we are presented with a massive twist towards the end. As usual, though I do try my very best, I was unable to deduce who the murderer actually was before the ‘big reveal’. The plot was overly fabricated and gloriously so. It kept me guessing at every turn of the page, which is what was so marvellous about this novel.
I must admit that this book has dramatically changed my perception of writers who pay homage to others. Through this work, the marvellously macabre and devious plots of Agatha Christie live on and are able to delight another generation. Thank you, Sophie Hannah, for continuing in her legacy and succeeding in doing it so well.
Words By Joe Lewin