Closed Casket: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie Hannah
|Closed Casket: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie Hannah|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Sophie Hannah picks up Poirot and carries him admirably in an enjoyable story set in Ireland. A good read.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384/10h10m||Date: September 2016|
|Publisher: Harper Collins|
|External links: Author's website|
Lady Athelinda Playford had organised a house party at her home in Clonakilty, Ireland. It was mainly family, plus the two partners from the firm of solicitors who look after her affairs, but there are two extra guests who were not expecting to see each other - Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard and the Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. They weren't certain why they'd been invited, but Athie Playford, author of the popular children's detective novels, Shrimp Seddon, had a shock in store for the assembled company and particularly for her two children, Harry and Claudia. She'd changed her will, disinheriting her son and daughter and leaving everything to her secretary, Joseph Scotcher.
No one could understand why she'd done this. There'd been no disagreement with her children and Scotcher was an invalid: he suffered from Bright's Disease which affects the kidneys and had weeks, or at the most months to live. Scotcher was shocked and embarrassed, but used the occasion to ask his nurse to marry him. Lady Playford seemed not to have thought through the implications of the change: either she could be at risk because that would mean Scotcher inherited sooner rather than never, or Scotcher could be murdered in an attempt to ensure that even if something unforeseen happened to Lady Playford he would not be around to inherit. And that night, someone died.
I often wonder why authors agree to pick up and continue the adventures of an established character. Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist didn't blossom in The Girl in the Spider's Web. It's a reasonable story, but not of the same quality as the originals by Stieg Larsson. How would Sophie Hannah cope with an even bigger name and a more beloved character? Well, I was more than pleasantly surprised: there was absolutely nothing jarring about this modern Poirot, with little reliance (as I had feared that there might be) on some of his catchphrases. Poirot is a well-developed character rather than a caricature. I liked Inspector Catchpool too. He's a successor to Inspector Japp and I see a real future for him in this detection business.
All the characters are equally well developed: even the daughter of Lady Playford and the wife of her son are nicely differentiated: it's not unusual in what amounts to a locked room mystery to get almost to the end and not be entirely certain of who is who, but Hannah's characterisation is superb. I wasn't totally convinced by the plot as even after I'd finished the book Athie Playford's motives for changing her will didn't really hold water for me - and it was this change which seemed to precipitate all that followed. But suspend disbelief on this point and you have a very good story and one that will stand rereading - to see how it was done.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If this book appeals then you might also enjoy In at the Death by Francis Duncan.
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