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Closed Casket: A New Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 325 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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- Book 2 of 4 in New Hercule Poirot Mysteries
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“Equal parts charming and ingenious, dark and quirky and utterly engaging…I was thrilled to see Poirot in such very, very good hands. Reading The Monogram Murders was like returning to a favorite room of a long-lost home.” (Gillian Flynn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Gone Girl)
“Perfect...a pure treat for Agatha Christie fans.” (Tana French, New York Times betselling author of The Secret Place)
“Sophie Hannah’s The Monogram Murders does Christie proud. Our favorite detective is back and in impeccable form!” (Charles Todd, New York Times bestselling author of An Unwilling Accomplice)
“Sophie Hannah is a prodigious talent. I can’t wait to see what she does next.” (Laura Lippman)
“Sophie Hannah’s idea for a plot line was so compelling and her passion for my grandmother’s work so strong, that we felt that the time was right for a new Christie to be written.” (Matthew Prichard, grandson of Agatha Christie)
From the Inside Flap
"What I intend to say to you will come as a shock . . ."
With these words, Lady Athelinda Playford springs a surprise on the lawyer entrusted with her will. As guests arrive for a party at her Irish mansion, Lady Playford has decided to cut off her two children without a penny . . . and leave her vast fortune to an invalid who has only weeks to live. Among Lady Playford's visitors are two strangers: the famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard. Neither knows why he has been invited--until Poirot begins to wonder if Lady Playford expects a murder. But why does she seem so determined to provoke a killer? And why--when the crime is committed, despite Poirot's best efforts to stop it--does the identity of the victim make no sense at all?--Gillian Flynn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Gone Girl --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- File size : 2435 KB
- Publisher : William Morrow; Illustrated edition (September 6, 2016)
- Publication date : September 6, 2016
- ASIN : B016I3AOJ4
- Print length : 325 pages
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Language: : English
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0062458825
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #96 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The writing in the book is fine: unremarkable, but not terribly distracting. Christie's dialogue was workmanlike but had a parsimonious efficiency to it. Here, characters just ramble on uninterestingly. The writing outside dialogue isn't much better. Catchpool is apparently psychic. When he's in conversations, we're told that his interlocutors speak as if they're concealing a secret, or that they're boiling with rage, or have some other emotion or concern. Yet there's nothing in the conversation itself to indicate that fact, and the reader isn't given any physical description or actions to corroborate it. We're just flat-out told, rather than shown, what people think. That's poor writing in general, but it's damning in a mystery novel. The reader should be drawing his own conclusions about the characters; instead, we're dependent on Catchpool not just for the facts of the case but also their interpretation.
The mystery itself has some compelling points. Without revealing any spoilers, you can clearly tell what part of the solution was the hook the author set for the story, and it's indeed worth basing a novel on (which I would not have said about the scenario in its predecessor). It's a clever setup, although its execution is not worthy of it.
I gave up trying to solve the mystery about halfway through. I lost confidence in the author's ability to tell a compact, self-contained story without a revelation three-quarters of the way through the book that some of the characters had a heretofore unrevealed secret backstory with the murder victim. That happened in the predecessor to this novel, and it happened in the current one as well. A murder mystery is supposed to be a puzzle for the reader to solve. With Catchpool's magical insights spoiling the current investigation and the unknowable backstory spoiling the murder itself, it's not a fair game. Instead of solving the mystery, I just patiently waited for the ending for the author to pull some arbitrary solution out of her hat. That solution had some gaping holes in it (for example, without introducing spoilers, the murder has no reason to be carrying around the murder weapon, and the novel lampshades this fact), but it more or less makes sense. It's not completely satisfying, but it's a definite improvement over the solution of the Monogram Murders.
So, how is the book overall?
As a reincarnation of Poirot, it feels clunky and fake. There's no real need for Poirot to even be in the novel; what little characterization occurs is mostly of Catchpool, the Hastings substitute.
As a reincarnation of Agatha Christie, it's just not up to the task. It feels like an ersatz knockoff: someone who's copied a few of the mannerisms but missed the whole point of the writing.
As a revival of a Golden-Age-style murder mystery, it's a respectable effort. It's not great, but I didn't feel cheated after reading it. It's bloated and needlessly complex, and the author ruins a genuinely good idea with tedious backstories and complications for the sake of complications. Christie at her best was a master of economy: the story fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, with no unnecessary pieces and no need to artificially shove pieces together. Hannah didn't meet that standard. With a better editor--- not just a copy-editor (though the dialogue could use some work), but someone to polish down the story to its deserving essentials--- she could have had a good story. As it stands, it's a decent but unspectacular one. I don't feel cheated or disappointed for it, but in retrospect I should have just read the first and last chapters.
The book is decent enough that I'll read Hannah's next Poirot novel, but I wouldn't recommend this one. If Hannah improves in future stories, I'd recommend readers just skip to the later books in the series. If she doesn't improve, I'd recommend readers avoid her novels altogether. This novel is just mediocre.
I have never heard of the author here. What a disappointment that a writer feels compelled to use another's character to bolster his/her own efforts. What is it called? Fan fiction? Whatever it is, I'm not impressed. Instead of giving it as a gift I decided to read it myself. I'm a third of the way through and it's a slog. It is NOT in the same league with Ms. Christie and other than some classic lines from Poirot (Mon Dieu, Mademoiselle, Oui, etc.) the lines coming from him are jarringly out of step with the Poirot as Ms. Christie wrote him.
It seems a cheat to put Agatha Christis's name at the top of the cover, same font as in many of HER works, then put your own name in small print at the bottom. Lame.
From the first pages of the book, there was absolutely NO comparison to an original Christie. The writing was thin and shallow, the characters weak and sad, and Poirot? Oh, my favorite character was just a mockery of the original.
This will be the only faux Poirot mystery that I try, and now I must go wash my mind of it by rereading one of the originals. With all due respect to Ms. Hannah, Dame Christie truly was and is the queen of mystery.
This is a hard pass for me.
Top reviews from other countries
Apparently not. Watch me now, I have done more research for this complaining review than Hannah does for her whole book.
Poirot is a parody of himself - an achievement, really, when Christie wrote him as a caricature in the first place. In Christie's works he is egotistical, certainly, but it is well founded egotism always. In Christie's books when Poirot exclaims he has been three times an imbecile, it's because he has, up until that point, been thinking along the lines of the reader - thinking the obvious, overlooking some simple point - and has realised what the self same facts actually mean. It is not having to be told what strychnine poisoning looks like, it is not having to ask the suspects for help (hot tip for Ms. Hannah: he asks people questions in the 'give them enough rope to hang themselves' way, not because he's out of ideas), it is not having to be told what to do by your new POV character.
Speaking of the viewpoint character - awful. He started off putting me in mind of Colin Lamb from "The Clocks" (1963) and then dropped the impartial narrator act to start whining and fussing and complaining. If you've read "Mysterious Affair at Styles" (1920), you know for all that Hastings draws his own conclusions, he is still charming and you, the reader, are still given the straight facts fair and square - it's up to you to assemble them. No such luck here.
And, oh, the behaviour of everyone is anachronistic; three servants for an upper-class household in 1929? Really? In "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" (1934) a small middle class household has the same number! Servants who are /rude/ to the quality, no less. The characters all call each other by their first names: these are not 'bright young things' sneering at the class system they benefit from, these are a doctor, people in their 30s and 40s, people who are not related by marriage or blood -- people who would always call Poirot 'Monsieur Poirot' and who would call a married woman using her husband's name, think "Hercule Poirot's Christmas" (1938) with Mrs. George Lee and Mrs. Alfred Lee or "Murder on the Orient Express" where one character calling another by her first name is a clue!
Christie wrote books using intelligence, using psychology over physical clues - all of that is absent here. Messy prose, rather than Christie's clear style, and completely overlooking what makes a Christie book brilliant. Don't bother.