Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Monogram Murders

The Monogram Murders. (New Hercule Poirot Mystery #1) Sophie Hannah. 2014. 325 pages. [Source: Library]
First sentence: "All's I'm saying is, I don't like her," the waitress with the flyaway hair whispered.

Premise/plot: The Monogram Murders is the first in a new mystery series starring Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot. The Monogram Murders is set in London--for the most part--in the 1920s. Poirot is retired and living in London. Detective (Edward) Catchpool is a new acquaintance. They both board at the same boardinghouse. Together they will set out to solve a murder; or MURDERS. Soon after the novel opens, three bodies are found at a hotel. All three victims have a monogrammed cuff link placed in their mouths.

The Monogram Murders, for the most part, is told from the perspective of Catchpool. There are only a few chapters where Catchpool is absent and Poirot is on his own detecting. (The first chapter, for example, is one such instance. But midway through the novel, the two separate. One goes to a village to investigate the home town of the three victims. One remains in London.)

I have not decided if Catchpool is exceptionally unobservant or if Hercule Poirot has superpowers.

My thoughts: I found this one compelling enough to keep reading but ultimately frustrating in the end. Silly me if I prefer my mysteries to have actual clues that readers can pick up on and make guesses--intelligent or not. It is just frustrating to have an arrogant, boasting detective who claims he knows who did it but won't share his clues or reasons until the last two pages of the book. What I found super-frustrating about this one is that Poirot never reveals who did it and the how and why of it. He sounds like a broken record: figure it out for yourself, Catchpool. Rehearse all the facts again, Catchpool. Keep at it, you'll be a better detective if you piece it together yourself. The primary suspect shares "the truth" at least three times and all readers know is that Poirot doesn't trust any of her versions of the truth. (Or does he, in the end?!) He has his own theories of what happened. But he mainly hints at what his theory is. I hated Poirot by the end. If that was Hannah's goal in resurrecting the oh-so-famous detective, then she was successful. Christie's Poirot was never this infuriating.

Favorite quote: "You should try drinking a cup of tea once in a while. Tea doesn't taste like mud, and there's no such thing as too much of it. Tea's only ever good for a person." (118)

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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