About The Book
‘I’m a dead woman, or I shall be soon…’
Hercule Poirot’s quiet supper in a London coffeehouse is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that 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 cufflink has been placed in each 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...
I am going to start this review with a disclaimer/admission
I have never read an Agatha Christie before. I know, I know. How on earth can I call myself a book-lover! They just seemed to completely pass me by and The Monogram Murders was my first foray into the world of Poirot.
I really, really struggled with this book. As mentioned above I haven’t read a Poirot novel before so I was really going into this blind. I had, of course, seen the TV Series of Poirot with David Suchet as the titular character but I am not an avid fan. My main difficulty was Poirot himself. I found him, well, annoying. I mean, really, *really* annoying. Which isn’t great when the book is about him trying to solve murders. He is a nosy know-it-all who is just completely infuriating and if it hadn’t been for the murders and the whodunit I may have abandoned the book entirely.
I understand from friends of mine who love and adore Poirot that I am in the minority here and decidedly odd for finding his supercilious and patronising ways annoying. In fact, they are currently in discussion about whether our 20+ year friendship is allowed to continue based on my horrific opinion of Poirot and let me tell you, when I revealed my feelings the WhatsApp group chat was not a pretty place to be. It’s just, he grated on me with his holier than thou attitude. This is, of course no reflection on Sophie Hannah’s writing – from what I gather he is always like this and she has done a great job in replicating his character in her novels. Also, if somebody can invoke a reaction in a reader they have done a pretty great job.
The mystery itself, regarding three murdered guests in a London hotel is cleverly constructed and enticing. I have read some of Sophie Hannah’s books before and I know how skilled she is at creating tightly woven and intricate plots via a clever narrative structure and for the most part she has done so again here. Despite my immense dislike of Poirot, I did want to keep turning the pages to see what happened and to try to solve the puzzle for myself. However, and this may be a Christie thing, there was a lot of clues that weren’t really revealed to the reader or were deliberately ambiguous and Poirot (being the most amazing and clever detective in the world) managed to pull them out of thin air and solve the whole thing. This was frustrating as it put me outside of the book and I struggled to be immersed in it.
I was surprised by the moments of humour contained within the book, it definitely lightened things a little and these instances didn’t really feel contrived as they can do sometimes in crime novels. Although it sounds like I hated the book, I didn’t, I just found it a bit of a slog but I did give it three stars on Goodreads. The ending seemed a little overly complicated (and incredibly long) and despite an intriguing premise I felt a bit disappointed by the resolution. Overall though, I just couldn’t get to grips with Poirot and this really made the book a bit difficult to get enthused about at times. I don’t mind an unlikeable protagonist but this one made me want to throw my Kindle across the room.
I read The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah because it was my Book Club’s read for September (you can read that review here. If Poirot is your thing (I won’t hold it against you I promise, some of my best friends like him 😉 ) you can buy The Monogram Murders here.