So … I just finished my almost-9-month project of re-reading ALL the Hercule Poirot mysteries. First, back in January, I read all 51 of the short-stories. Than, in chronological order, I re-read every Poirot novel. I had a blast doing this.

I finished Curtain … one that was written before others but locked away until after the author died … is a fabulous read! Such a great conclusion to the series! But then I still wanted more — why, oh why, hadn’t Christie written more???? OK, that’s probably not fair since she did write 40+ novels in addition to the short stories just using Poirot as the main character!

I succumbed to the urge and bought The Monogram Murders by “famous, psychological thriller author” Sophie Hannah. The reviews were mediocre, but the fact that the Agatha Christie Society recommended (actually, encouraged) the reading of Hannah’s book … and her newest one just came out.

So I thought I’d try it out.monogram01

I am so angry at the time wasted reading this novel. The story is a convoluted, overly intricate/confusing/stupid plot – so even if it wasn’t trying to milk the Poirot connection and if she had a non-famous detective, the execution would still have been horrible. I blame myself – I kept hoping it would get better … but it never did even though I stuck it out to the very end. I found it extremely hard to believe that Hannah is “an award-winning poet and crime fiction writer whose novels are international bestsellers”. She purportedly writes “psychological thrillers” and yet the psychology of this book never worked … never rang true … seemed forced.

That said, the fact that Hannah tries to sell the book as a “new Poirot” in the spirit of Christie is really annoying. I wonder if she’s read Poirot before trying to imitate Christie’s style? She comes nowhere close to Dame Agatha’s ability to weave a plot, peppered throughout with witticisms and characterizations beyond the norm. Hannah’s narrator, supposedly a detective from Scotland Yard who is portrayed as an un-creative, non-thinking policeman who is overly distressed by the murders (even leaving the scene of the first for hours until he can cope with seeing the victims) and is not a very sympathetic character, makes Hastings look like a genius. Poirot is portrayed as pompous and fairly dense to the obvious clues strewn throughout; the sense is that this is a parody rather than a “new” Poirot. The dialogue is ponderous and tries way too hard to be cute, something Christie never attempted. I also think she didn’t play fair … a major aspect of ALL Christie stories … with some of her conclusions based on the events.

UGH! Poor Agatha must be turning in her grave!

I will find something else to fill the void … and not trust to “in the spirit of …” modern writers to satisfy my craving for great mystery writing.

Trust me, don’t waste your time or money on this one ….

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