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‘Do come in Michael!’ Lady Athelinda Playford sounded as ebullient as ever. She was seventy years ols, with a voice as strong and clear as a polished bell….’Now, about my will…I want you to make a new one for me.’ Gathercole as surprised. According to the terms of Lady Playford’s existing will, her substantial estate was to be divided equally upon her death, between her two surviving children….’I want to leave everything to my secretary….’
And thus begins the brand new Hercule Poirot mystery, Closed Casket, written by Sophie Hannah. Her first Poirot mystery, The Monogram Murders was published in 2014. It is the first official novel authorised by the Christie estate to feature Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot, and his first literary appearance in 38 years. With Closed Casket, in classic Agatha Christie style, Sophie Hannah brings back the famous Belgian to the scene of an impending crime. Joining Poirot is Scotland Yard’s Edward Catchpool, who is still reeling from the aftermath of previous case, which was solved ingeniously by Poirot, where he had been subjected to some unfortunate publicity, ‘Newspapermen had accused me of bring inadequate as a detective and relying too much on Poirot to get me out of a tight spot. Naively, I had made some remarks when interviewed that were a little too honest….’
And so, when Hercule Poirot and Edward Catchpool are invited by the famous writer to her estate in County Cork, Poirot knows something is about to happen. Catchpool on the other hand, thinks that Athelinda Playford invited him to ask about police matters, so as to make her stories more realistic. The truth is far from what Catchpool believes, and both are taken by surprise as the celebrated writer makes a lavish announcement. The other guests also find themselves reeling under the sassiness of Lady Playford. Words and accusations fly back and forth, and within hours of the sensational announcement, the murderer strikes.
Sophie Hannah’s new Hercule Poirot mystery is a delightful read. Each character adds to the intrigue and as in any classic Whodunnit, the convoluted plot makes the readers use their ‘little grey cells’ to solve the mystery. A welcome change from analyzing situations and characters in today’s modernistic literature.