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Adaptations


Image result for "the mystery of three quarters"This review contains no substantial spoilers, beyond discussion of the basic set-up of the book’s plot and a few lines of dialogue taken out of context.

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Image result for closed casket sophie hannah

In 2014, Sophie Hannah published The Monogram Murders, the first Hercule Poirot mystery authorised by the Christie estate. There was some cynicism afoot (coming up to the 100th anniversary of the creation of the character, one could argue that the estate needed to create a new Poirot work to protect the copyright on the detective himself – which will otherwise expire, ala Sherlock Holmes, long before the last Christie book does) but nevertheless there was justifiable enthusiasm from Christie tragics like myself.

As I mentioned in my review at the time, the book had its strengths and weaknesses. A Hastings-esque narrative device that kept Poirot at bay for much of the book’s running time wasn’t great; on the other hand, Hannah’s revisionist approach to the seemingly picture-perfect villages of Christie’s writings felt both powerful and atmospheric. The mystery was quite complex, perhaps even occasionally outlandish, but grounded in a rich and tragic backstory, and the narrator – Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard – had his own nuances that seemed to be hidden from even Papa Poirot’s eyes, but available to the astute reader.

So how does the sequel hold up?

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This post contains detailed spoilers for Sophie Hannah’s Poirot novel, The Monogram Murders. If you haven’t read the book, stay away. If you have read it, prepare to have your eyes opened. And, if you are Sophie Hannah, I apologise!

I very much enjoyed The Monogram Murders, the new Hercule Poirot book written by Sophie Hannah and authorised by the Christie estate. Indeed, I started the book at 8PM on Christmas Eve, and finished it, bleary-eyed, as Santa Claus was sneaking down the chimney. While I found the denouement satisfying (if slightly outlandish), there was one clue that caught me earlier on which didn’t seem satisfactorily explained. I now suggest to you, ladies and gentlemen, that Hercule Poirot did not adequately solve the case, either out of lack of information, or possibly – just possibly – compassion. I might be crazy, but the circumstances of these murders are already quite odd, so what’s a little more craziness?

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The Monogram Murders

This review of “The Monogram Murders” does not contain spoilers for plot information. If you’ve read the book, however, do check out my insane theory on the story’s real killer.

After four decades, that most delightful of detectives makes his return to the printed page. The Christie estate authorised his return in Sophie Hannah’s The Monogram Murders and I think it was worth the wait.
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Welcome back, Christie fans, as we revisit Julia McKenzie‘s most recent outing as Jane Marple.

“Some are born to sweet delight,

some are born to endless night.”

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It’s odd, really, given Dame Christie’s prominence and crossover popularity, that she hasn’t been more commonly filmed – at least on TV, if not the silver screen. Indeed, the late ’80s primarily saw her being adapted by the Americans (in updated versions of Murder is Easy and The Man in the Brown Suit) while the ’90s were given over almost exclusively to the Poirot and Marple series. The only modern British TV movie I’ve been able to track down and review until now was 2003’s Sparkling CyanideI would’ve thought that the novels would’ve been regular fodder for young writers armed with an ITV contract and two weeks’ filming time, but I suppose the Christie estate has other opinions. (And, it must be said, TV movies have a habit of updating the action to present-day, which is perfectly fine but might be challenging for some of Christie’s more class-conscious novels, and sometimes leads to the trashy feeling of the footballers and their wives in Sparkling Cyanide.) Today, however, I’m looking at that rare breed: a period TV film, adapted from a Christie novel, originally airing in the ’90s. Let’s take a look.

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A remarkably faithful adaptation brings David Suchet’s reign as Hercule Poirot to an end after almost 25 years (24 years and 10 months, to be precise!). This is far from the end of Agatha Christie on screen, but it certainly feels like a sad, sad day.

“Shots in the dark, Poirot. Shots in the dark.”

— Stephen Norton

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