The Mystery of Three Quarters (New Hercule Poirot Mysteries #3) by Sophie Hannah

three quartersI was so excited when I saw The Mystery of Three Quarters.  A new Poirot mystery written by Sophie Hannah, whose books I’ve read and enjoyed in the past, taking up the mantle of the crime queen.  How would it all work out?  Well, I have to say that I really enjoyed this. I totally sympathise with any author taking on a firmly established and well loved character created by a master of the genre. I think one of the real difficulties lies in capturing the essence of the period but I think Hannah did a good job of capturing not only the quintessential character of Poirot but also managing to instill the book with that quaint feel that you would expect.  Of course this isn’t Christie but, truthfully, I don’t think Hannah is trying to totally mimic the original, more that she’s bringing back to the page a beloved character whilst giving him something of her own stamp.

I’m only going to briefly discuss the plot.  Basically, four characters receive a letter from Poirot accusing them of murder.  One thing that is immediately clear is that the letters were not written by Poirot, what is not clear is why somebody would send these letters accusing people of  a murder when in fact the death in question seems to have been accidental.  It can only be assumed that foul play is suspected and that somebody wishes Poirot to dig a little deeper.

The book is set in the 1930s and I felt like Hannah did a really good job of creating not only a feel for the era but also managing to write a crime novel which feels cosy.  No violence or bloodyness on these pages.  Everything is respectable, or at least it is on the face of things.

The characters are a fun and quirky bunch ranging from a rather muddleheaded school master to a shy spinster living in a country manor and doting on her dog.  Poirot came across as quirky and eccentric with nods to his dislike of disorder and the story was narrated by one Inspector Edward Catchpool.  I really enjoyed the way in which the characters are set up and the red herrings that Hannah sprinkles around to send readers off on wild goose chases and I particularly loved the whole grande finale with all the suspects being called together in a showy attempt at flushing out the guilty party.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I thought the start was a little slow and at first I felt as though Poirot should have been a little more forceful in defending himself against the angry visitors he was treated to.  To be honest though, I think on reflection that his reaction was probably more ‘Poirot’ than if he had reacted in that way.  I didn’t think the final solution was quite as elaborate as I’d expected in fact for me it felt a little bit flat in some respects but again, maybe that’s just me trying to have things feel too ‘plausible’.

I realise that there were two previous books prior to this one but I’m not sure if I’ll go back to read those – not because I don’t want to read more however, just I feel I’ve jumped forward now and so would prefer to see what comes next.

Overall I have to say I found this a very easy and quick read and I certainly hope that Ms Hannah intends to write more books starring Poirot – I will definitely pick them up and will be curious to see how her style develops going forward.  I loved being able to read a Poirot mystery again and revisiting a character and period that has a simple charm.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.