I’m not quite sure why I love Agatha Christie mysteries so much. Nostalgia. The challenge of trying to figure out who did it. I read them again and again, especially around this time of year. And each re-read is as satisfying as the first time round.
Last year I wrote about discovering a new Hercule Poirot novel written by acclaimed crime writer Sophie Hannah. I loved it. The style was identical to the originals, as if the author had somehow channelled Agatha Christie herself.
Needless to say, when I saw there was a new Poirot mystery on the shelves, I had to have it.
In Closed Casket, Poirot is invited to spend a week at prominent writer Lady Athelinda Playford’s mansion in Ireland. He’s accompanied by Detective Catchpool from Scotland Yard. At first they’re unsure why they received such a curious invitation.
Other guests include two lawyers from a local law firm, Lady Playford’s ailing secretary and his nurse, Lady Playford’s daughter and her husband-to-be and Lady’s Playford’s eldest son and wife.
When their host announces at dinner that she has changed her will, it becomes clear that everyone at the table has a motive for murder.
Fans of the series know exactly how an Agatha Christie novel works:
1. You get a hint of the drama about to unfold
2. You meet the cast
3. A murder takes place
4. Poirot begins to hunt for clues
5. You think you know who did it
6. You become absolutely convinced you guessed right
7. You just want the book to finish to prove your suspicion
8. Turns out someone else actually did it
Hannah has proven to be a master of Christie’s formula. Half way through the novel I was absolutely certain I knew who the killer was. And once again, I was proved wrong. The red herrings are so cleverly weaved into the story that you can’t tell them apart from the real clues.
I don’t know how Hannah does it, but I hope she keeps on doing it. Closed Casket is another triumph.
It’s definitely my top Christmas present choice for friends and family this year.
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