Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

Opening sentence: “Michael Gathercole stared at the closed door in front of him and tried to persuade himself that now was the moment to knock, as the aged grandfather clock in the hall downstairs stuttered its announcement of the hour.”

I am a big fan of Agatha Christie (can you be a story lover and not be? I mean, she kept those clever, twisting plots coming – for Poirot and Marple – her imagination was just amazing) and Closed Casket is officially the second book by Hannah (her first, The Monogram Murders was released in 2014) sanctioned by the Christie estate to continue the adventures of one of the world’s most famous detectives – Hercule Poirot. I would give him the title as the world’s most famous detective if it wasn’t for Sherlock Holmes, I feel he might just pip Poirot to the post. Anyway, I digress.

For her books, Hannah has created her own narrator to guide us through the tales, not found in any previous Christie novel, and he is Scotland Yard Detective Edward Catchpole.

Closed Casket sees Poirot and Catchpole both receive weekend invitations to stay at the stately Irish country home of famed children’s author, Lady Athelinda Playford. Although puzzled as to why, they accept and begin their weekend in Clonakilty, County Cork.

We soon discover that Lady Playford invited them for their world-class detective skills – she wants them to prevent a murder. Yes, prevent one. One she is quite sure will – but does not want to – happen due to events she has put in place for reasons that are gradually revealed. It’s always tricky when reviewing a crime novel to strike the perfect balance of giving a concise enough summary without actually revealing anything that would give away the plot, so I will just say that there are enough characters present in the house to keep things interesting and the back story is intriguing, even if it could have been delved into a little deeper.

Although I didn’t foresee the ending, I can’t say I loved this book. It was a very competent crime novel, but as it is a continuation of the Poirot name, I think I just expected a little more. However, Hannah has wonderfully captured the tone and structure of a Christie novel, from the short, concise titled chapters to the voice of Monsieur Poirot himself, and overall, it was an enjoyable read.

Rating: 3.5/5

Pages: 371
Published: Harper Collins, 2016

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