Closed Casket: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie Hannah
Who wouldn’t be excited to read a new Hercule Poirot mystery? Well, don’t hold your breath with this one. I’m still trying to decide if it was written as a joke as it was so appallingly awful. It read like an old English farce (a comedy that aims at entertaining the audience through situations that are highly exaggerated, extravagant, and thus improbable)*, and a bad one at that. Even the names of some of the characters are reminiscent of this art form, e.g.: “Lady Playford”, “Catchpool”, “Shrimp Seddon”.
It all begins with Poirot’s invitation to the Irish estate of Lady Athelinda Playford, the famous children’s author. Along with Poirot, Lady Playford has invited Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard. Neither of these men knows why they have been invited and Lady Playford is not at all forthcoming in explaining her reasons to either of them. Yes, a murder does take place but it is so preposterous as to be almost laughable. The plot is convoluted (Lady Playford, herself, uses this term to describe the plots of her children’s novels!), confusing, and at times makes no sense at all and the characters have no reasonable motivation for what they do or say in many instances.
Poirot is held in such high esteem in Agatha Christie’s novels. Here – not at all.
In fact, his reputation as a brilliant detective isn’t even acknowledged, nor is he even given a chance to show what he can do. But then, the occasional “mon ami”, and a reference to “grey cells” do NOT a Poirot make!
Give this one a miss. Otherwise it’s a couple of hours that you’ll never get back!