Title: The Mystery of Three Quarters
Author: Sophie Hannah
Page Count: 390
This is the second Sophie Hannah book that I’ve read, and as before it’s a new Hercule Poirot book that’s written in the style of Agatha Christie and which is approved by the Christie estate. Because of that, I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this because Christie is one of my favourite authors and I was a little worried about how Hannah was going to cope.
I shouldn’t have worried, though. This felt pretty much spot on, and the only real incongruity I noticed was that Hannah’s Poirot speaks in French a little more frequently than when Christie was writing him. But honestly, if that’s the only criticism that I have of Hannah’s imitation of Christie’s writing, I think that’s pretty good. And Hannah definitely does a better job than Charles Osborne did on Black Coffee, even though that was alright as well.
In this book, Poirot is confronted by four different people who’ve each received a letter that claims to be from the great detective and which accuses them all of having murdered a dude called Barnabas. The interesting thing is that each claims that they’ve been falsely accused, but then they don’t all believe Poirot when he says that he didn’t send them. That means that Poirot finds himself falsely accused, too.
I’ve always preferred Marple to Poirot, but I quite liked him in this one, and perhaps that’s because Hannah treats him a little more gently than Christie did. In a lot of Christie’s books, you get the sense that the author herself doesn’t like him, and he can definitely be pompous, smug and self-satisfied. Hannah writes about him like a fan, and while I’m not saying that this book feels like fan fiction (because it doesn’t), I do think she went easy on him.
But at its heart, this is just a cracking little murder mystery, and it’d be worth reading even if Poirot wasn’t the main character. For me, that’s a good thing, and it makes me want to look at some more of Sophie Hannah’s work. She’s written a ton of books, many of which have won awards, and I’m suitable impressed with her. She did good.