The new Poirot: Sophie Hannah's 'The Monogram Murders' reviewed

The Monogram Murders

Hello and Happy New Year to you all! Please bear in mind whilst reading this review that I haven’t read many original Poirot novels, and those I have I read years and years ago. So I’m not reviewing this novel based on exactly how it compares to the originals, just on how I found reading it!

‘I’m a dead woman, or I shall be soon…’
Hercule Poirot’s quiet supper in a London coffeehouse is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified – but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.
Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London Hotel have been murdered, and a cufflink has been placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim…

I have seen mixed reviews about the novel, with some readers saying that they were disappointed with Sophie Hannah’s effort at writing a new Poirot mystery. I, however, really enjoyed The Monogram Murders and, although there were some elements I might change, I read the book in a few sittings and felt like it was an interesting detective story.
The mystery was suitably far-fetched and I never could have guessed the solution or what really happened, which is what you want from a detective novel I suppose! I did feel the storyline was maybe a little unnecessarily complex but I still really enjoyed reading how Poirot solved the case, even if he did repeat certain phrases a million times. I really enjoy being guided through the twists and turns of a story, safe in the knowledge that the protagonist will reveal all at the end, and this fits that bill perfectly!
I’m not overly keen on some of the dialogue, especially between Catchpool and Poirot; although Poirot was always shown to be pretty pompous and self-important, I remember him having more charm and likability in Christie’s novels, whereas in The Monogram Murders he seemed extra patronising. Then again, Catchpool is an incredibly annoying character, and his personality is certainly a big minus in this book. The fact that he is supposed to be a detective confounds me– he seems to have an aversion to dead bodies and travelling to places on his own (God forbid!), whines a lot and is, overall, rather stupid! Maybe Sophie Hannah did this to further emphasise Poirot’s intelligence but he was just rather irritating throughout the case and took away from my enjoyment of the book a little.
This was an easy novel to read and I got through it quickly, despite the confusing ‘confession’ from certain character/s (don’t want to give away any spoilers). I am a big Sophie Hannah fan and love her many psychological thrillers that she writes so well. In my opinion she writes The Monogram Murders pretty well considering she is having to fill such big boots, and this novel is enjoyable to read but I feel that it doesn’t quite demonstrate Hannah’s fantastic story-telling ability which I love, or at least not as well as it could.
As a detective novel in its own right it was really enjoyable and is definitely worth a read, but beware: if you’re a die-hard Agatha Christie/Poirot fan, this can’t be fairly compared.
Rating: 3.5/5

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