If you are missing Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s famous detective, then read the latest novel from Sophie Hannah.
Hannah has been enlisted to create new Poirot stories by the Agatha Christie estate. Her fourth, The Killings at Kingfisher Hill, has the same reassuring old-fashioned feel to the style of writing and the language.
She does a good job of recreating Poirot with all his eccentricities and charming—or irritating depending on your point of view—habits.
And her sidekick for him, Inspector Catchpool, is as naive as Captain Hastings in the original books.
Poirot has been summoned to a fancy house at Kingfisher Hill by Richard Devonport. He is convinced that the wrong woman, Helen, is about to be hung for the murder of his brother Frank.
Things get more complicated when his sister, Daisy, also confesses to the murder. And then we discover that Helen, who is now engaged to Richard, was in a relationship with Frank when he died.
The plot gets going with a pretty bizarre and seemingly separate situation. A young woman travelling on the same coach as Poirot gets off because she fears she will die if she sits in a certain seat.
When a body later turns up, Poirot has another baffling puzzle to solve. He also has to figure out if the two deaths are linked.
The book has all the things you would want from a murder mystery of this kind. There’s an overbearing patriarch who controls his family through fear and money. Some people aren’t who they seem to be, and everyone has a secret to hide.
Bits of the plot could have been stronger. The explanation behind the scenes on the coach isn’t very convincing. And having characters explain away strange behaviours by saying that “our true thoughts are often profoundly irrational” is a bit of a weak response.
But still, it’s an enjoyable read and I’d finished it within a few days.
There are some good plot twists and anyone who likes whodunnits should enjoy it.