Title: Closed Casket
Author: Sophie Hannah
When I first heard about ‘The Monogram Murders’ back in 2014, I fought internally as to whether I should read Hannah’s works. For some reason unknown to myself, it felt wrong to read a novel featuring Poirot that hadn’t been penned by Christie herself. It didn’t feel right for another author to be writing about Poirot, when Christie was the one to create him. I therefore stayed away from both ‘The Monogram Murders’ and ‘Closed Casket’. However, I was curious to read them, and was missing Poirot. I wanted to read a new mystery featuring Poirot. Eventually my curiosity won.
The premise of the plot was brilliant. It was set out in such a way that I wanted to read more so I could solve the murder alongside Poirot and Inspector Catchpool. After the foundation was laid down, I was relatively sure who was going be murdered, as it made the most sense motive wise. (The fact that it makes sense motive wise is cleverly bought up again when the murder was solved in a slightly different way). Then I backtracked because although motive wise it makes sense, in reality it makes no sense to kill this particular person. All that is required is a bit of patience and everything will go back to how it originally was. Kudos to Hannah for introducing that doubt in the first place.
Also, one of the plot twists in the book was rather incredible – I honestly didn’t see it coming nor suspected anything of the sort. However, the plot twist didn’t sustain itself. Yes, it was a good plot twist but it wasn’t explained nor explored further. To be fair, speculation was present amongst the characters, but no solid answer was provided.
There’s no fun in reading a murder mystery if the reader cannot solve it alongside the characters due to a lack of clues given. However, in this book, the main clues were given to the reader through information gained by Catchpool. In that respect, the reader was able to solve the murder alongside Poirot and Catchpool. However, some information was not given to the reader until right at the end, which made the whole mystery fit. So although it was technically solvable, the reason behind it was left a mystery.
As for character, I felt Poirot to be a little lacking. Some of his mannerisms were completely missing. Also, I felt at times he had lost his cleverness and intuition. It felt as if simple things that he should have been able to grasp immediately had to be spelt out for him. I didn’t understand why this had been done, and I hate to admit it, but this did irritate me a little, because to me Poirot isn’t like that! Perhaps this was just Hannah’s interpretation of Poirot.
Yet, the character of Catchpool had been cleverly used. Through him the reader was presented with the facts in an unbiased way and was a device used to act as a mediator between the reader and the other characters. The comments he did say were very much in line with my own, which makes me wonder if Hannah anticipated this or if it’s just a coincidence. The other characters were also well presented.
In conclusion, I have no regrets in reading this book. The most disappointing aspect was the lack of explanation provided for the huge plot twist. In some respects, I may have been a little harsh in my musings of this book, simply because I adore Christie’s works. Despite this, at some point I will be checking out ‘The Monogram Murders’.