Friday, October 31, 2014

The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

"I'm a dead woman, or I shall be soon..."

Hercule Poirot's quit supper in a London coffeehouse is interrupted when a young woman confides to him tat she is about to be murdered.  She is terrified - but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer.  Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.

Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London hotel have been murdered, and a monogrammed cufflink has been placed in ache one's mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman?  While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim....

This is not going to be a very long review. In actuality, I could probably do it in a sentence or two, but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be fair to anyone involved.  So I'm going to at least try to get a paragraph or two out of it, albeit short ones.

I guess when it comes down to it, this was not an Agatha Christie book, nor was it really Hercule Poirot dwelling among the pages.  I'm not sure how high my expectations were going into it, but I'm pretty sure they didn't come close to being met.  I don't have a lot of experience with literary pastiches, but the few I have read, were more like they were having fun with an author's style, not trying to imitate it.  I think the author tried too hard, and didn't allow herself to play around with the way Agatha Christie wrote, or in how she treated Hercule Poirot.  In the end I was left with a book that wasn't all that fun to read, didn't feel like an Agatha Christie mystery, and gave a pale imitation of Poirot. This wasn't the Poirot I've developed a rather complicated love/hate relationship with over the years.  It was a shadow of the man, they shared a name, maybe a phrase of two, but that's about it. To be fair, had the author taken the more playful route, I'm not sure I would have been any happier, but I think I would have enjoyed the book more.

Now had the author chose to release this book as a standalone mystery, with no ties to the world created by Agatha Christie, I think I would have been able to get into the story a bit more, and maybe even grown to like it.  It's not a mystery I would ever call a favorite, or try to bully all my friends into reading, but it was a solid piece of work, that didn't have huge gaping holes in it's logic.  However, I was so distracted by the whole Agatha Christie thing, that I was never able to let go and lose myself in the story.

The one truly redeeming aspect of this book, the one thing I will take away from it in a positive way, is that I really did enjoy Edward Catchpool.  He's not Hastings, but I think he held his own against this version of Poirot, and had this been a book with him as the starring detective, I know I would have liked it more.  I would hope that the author would choose to go forward with him, and if she does, I'll look forward to spending more time with him.

I would like to thank Trish of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read/review this book, even if my review is way late.  Please visit the tour page to read other reviews.


TracyK said...

This is a very balanced review, Ryan, and I enjoyed it very much. I don't plan to try this book anyway, but I suspect I would have a similar reaction.

bermudaonion said...

I trust your judgement on this because I know you're well read when it comes to Christie. It's too bad this wasn't better - it sounds like they should have left good enough alone.

Mystica said...

I thought I had read them all! a new one for me from Christie.

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Darn, I'm sorry this one didn't work for you Ryan. Thanks for your honest review for the tour.

Katherine P said...

I've been going back and forth on reading this one and it sounds like I've been right to be a little reluctant to pick it up. To some extent no matter how great the book is it still isn't Agatha. I'll try and find this one at the library but I don't think I'll go rushing out to buy it. Thanks for the review!

carol said...

I'm listening to this one right now. So far it's okay, but I'm not loving it. It just isn't really Poirot.