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.


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?


Well, it’s been an interesting couple of years since I completed my initial project for this blog: one in which both Marple and Poirot finished their runs on ITV, and Hercule Poirot has returned for two new mystery novels by Sophie Hannah. Now, in the 100th anniversary of Dame Agatha’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, it seems as if we’re on the cusp of a Christie Renaissance.

2015 saw two new works I’ve not yet renewed: a controversial BBC adaptation of And Then There Were None, and a six-part adaptation of two Tommy and Tuppence novels, Partners iN Crime. And Hannah’s two novels – The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket – have helped thrust the Golden Age of Crime Fiction back into the spotlight. (I intend to review the latter of those novels sooner or later.) From France to Japan, non-English language versions of the Dame’s works seem to be growing more and more prolific.

2016 has been something of a drought, but news from the BBC and Hollywood suggests that we won’t have to wait much longer:

  • Kenneth Branagh has decided (for better or worse) to adapt a new, all-star version of that Poirot classic, Murder on the Orient Express. The project is currently scheduled for November 2017, although Hollywood always has other plans. How will Branagh’s typically luxurious style compare to the oddball 2001 TV movie update? I’m intrigued, to say the least.
  • Already adapted in the ’50s with Marlene Dietrich, and again in the ’80s with Dame Diana Rigg, Christie’s classic and successful play Witness for the Prosecution is now receiving not one but two adaptations. The first, a two-part BBC telemovie starring Kim Cattrall and Toby Jones, will premiere in – we assume – early 2017. The second is a thus-far vague Hollywood adaptation by Ben Affleck.
  • As if that wasn’t enough, Julian Fellowes – of Downton Abbey fame – has written an adaptation of one of my favourite Christie novels, Crooked House, which has never before been filmed. With an announced (although not necessarily confirmed) cast including Gillian Anderson, Glenn Close, Christina Hendricks, and Terence Stamp, this project sounds particularly exciting. It is due for release in 2017, all things going well.
  • Meanwhile, with the BBC having reclaimed all of Dame Christie’s rights from ITV (which almost definitely puts the final nail in Marple’s coffin after 6 delightful years), seven new adaptations have been announced. Details are not known for most of them but we have 3 titles: The ABC Murders (whether they’ll retain Poirot or sub him out, in light of David Suchet‘s still powerful aftertaste, who knows); Ordeal by Innocence (which was among the last of the Christie films during her last big-screen era in the ’80s, and which had a patchy adaptation by Geraldine McEwan’s Marple); and the never-before-filmed Death Comes as the End, set in Ancient Egypt and one of my Christie guilty pleasures.

The number of Christie novels never adapted is now quite few: the spy novels They Came to Baghdad, Destination Unknown and Passenger to Frankfurt (all of which, I think, could be salvaged into spy films), and the final Tommy and Tuppence work, the forgettable Postern of Fate. Beyond this, many short stories remain untold, so there’s plenty of material there for the Beeb to work with.

With all of this news, we can only hope that the BBC allows for versatility in its directors, and a respect for the text. My own mixed feelings about the recent And Then There Were None aside, this could be a great chance to bring new readers to Christie’s works as her legacy enters its second century.

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?


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.

Emma Hamilton as Sally Legge

Emma Hamilton as Sally Legge

Welcome back, mes amis, as we head to the beautiful surrounds of Agatha Christie’s real-life Greenway Estate for a new adaptation of her late novel, Dead Man’s Folly.

“It’s better to be rich, isn’t it?”

— Lady Hattie Stubbs


Welcome back, dear readers.  David Suchet has returned for the final series of Poirot films, which will be released infrequently over the next several months. Let’s take a look at the first of the five, Elephants Can Remember.

“And love it may usually turn to hate. And it is easier to hate where you have once loved than to remain indifferent.”

— Hercule Poirot