Day 900: The Monogram Murders

Cover for The Monogram MurdersThe Monogram Murders is the first Hercule Poirot mystery written since Agatha Christie’s death that was approved by her estate. It is written by the British thriller writer Sophie Hannah, whose books I have enjoyed. I was curious to see how authentic the novel seemed as a Christie mystery.

Hercule Poirot visits Pleasant’s Coffee House every Thursday night because he finds that its delicious coffee activates the little grey cells and he likes the astute observations of a waitress named Fee. One evening a regular patron comes in disturbed, behaving as if she fears for her life. When Poirot tries to convince her to confide in him or go to the police, she runs away. All Poirot can find out about her is that she works in some large house across town and her name is Jennie.

Hercule returns to his rooming house to confide in his fellow lodger, Mr. Catchpole, who works for Scotland Yard, but Catchpole is disturbed by having just attended the scene of a murder. Three people have been found dead at the exclusive Bloxham Hotel, and each had a monogrammed cufflink in his or her mouth.

Investigation soon finds that the two women victims, Harriet Sippel and Ida Gransbury, both lived in the small town of Great Holling. They traveled up separately to London and had rooms on different floors, but they both had tea with the third victim, Richard Negus, at 7:15 PM. They were all found dead in their rooms after 8 PM.

It soon becomes clear that the deaths have something to do with a tragedy years before in Great Holling, when lying rumors about the town’s vicar resulted in the loss of his reputation and the subsequent suicides of his wife and himself. The three dead were the couple’s biggest traducers, and a servant named Jennie Hobbs told the original lie. But who is the murderer? Some pieces don’t fit.

So, how does The Monogram Murders stack up against other Christie mysteries? It is certainly as complex as any other Poirot mystery and as difficult a puzzle. Hercule Poirot is very much himself. Catchpole is a suitably dense sidekick, a bit reminiscent of Mr. Watson in another series. The novel is engaging and interesting. The one distinctive characteristic of Christie’s novels that it lacks are her deft characterizations, her way of making readers be able to visualize them with just a few sentences. Still, this novel makes a fairly worthy entry into the series.

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The Truth-Teller’s Lie

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7 thoughts on “Day 900: The Monogram Murders

  1. Helen May 12, 2016 / 2:51 pm

    I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this, but you’ve made it sound very intriguing so maybe I’ll give it a try. I still have a lot of the original Poirot mysteries to read too – I love Agatha Christie but am working very slowly through her books!

    • whatmeread May 12, 2016 / 4:27 pm

      I think it was okay. It could have been a lot worse!

  2. Cecilia May 15, 2016 / 8:22 pm

    I did not realize at all that someone was continuing her books. I’m embarrassed to admit that I have yet to read anything by Agatha Christie, though I am very interested. Is there a book that you’d recommend?

    • whatmeread May 16, 2016 / 10:53 am

      I would say one of the classics would be best. She wrote a lot of them and some are not as good as others. Try Murder on the Orient Express or Death on the Nile, maybe, although those are both Poirots. I like Miss Marple better.

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