Everything you’d expect from Poirot, if that appeals to you! 3.5/5 stars.
Thank you to HarperCollins UK and NetGalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book.
The blurb: The world’s most beloved detective, Hercule Poirot – the legendary star of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and most recently The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket—returns in a stylish, diabolically clever mystery set in 1930s’ London.
Returning home after lunch one day, Hercule Poirot finds an angry woman waiting outside his front door. She demands to know why Poirot has sent her a letter accusing her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she has neither heard of nor ever met.
Poirot has also never heard of a Barnabas Pandy, and has accused nobody of murder. Shaken, he goes inside, only to find that he has a visitor waiting for him — a man who also claims also to have received a letter from Poirot that morning, accusing him of the murder of Barnabas Pandy…
Poirot wonders how many more letters of this sort have been sent in his name. Who sent them, and why? More importantly, who is Barnabas Pandy, is he dead, and, if so, was he murdered? And can Poirot find out the answers without putting more lives in danger?
It hasn’t been long since I read an original Poirot story and so I can confidently say I’m impressed with how convincingly Sophie Hannah imitates Christie’s style. I also like that she gives us more narrative viewpoints than you get in most classic Poirot stories. We get to see events from Catchpole, Poirot and a few of the minor characters’ POVs and it’s a great way to drip feed us information as the puzzle pieces slowly slot into place.
I liked that the mystery wasn’t entirely unfathomable and I was able to work out some of the twists. As usual with a Poirot, there were a few things no-one would guess in a million years, but if we found the solution to the riddle obvious it would take the shine off his reputation as a master detective!
If you’re considering picking this up, my main advice would be it’s important that you like Christie’s style and the original Poirot stories. There are elements of all these stories which won’t appeal to some readers: the cool detachment of the narrative voice, the lack of character insight for any other purpose than adding to the puzzle, the many tiny wheels within wheels, and in this case a Battenberg cake analogy which is spun out for far too long.
But for those of you who do like Poirot and other classic murder mysteries, The Mystery of Three Quarters has everything you will expect and want: red herrings a plenty, a country mansion, everyone brought into one room to hear the genius’ deductions, a furious (but obviously mistaken) police superintendent, and dark family secrets waiting to be brought to light.
Overall: if Christie’s stories and Poirot are something you already enjoy, you should definitely add this new mystery to your to-read pile.
Claire Huston / Art and Soul