Honestly, no one will ever be Agatha Christie. Sophie Hannah didn't do a bad job, but she definitely included too much detail, especially at the end. I was so confused by the time I reached the solution that I ended up skimming several pages of lengthy and complicated explanation. The real Hercule Poirot - who loved order and method - would have laid out his solution much better. No offense to Ms. Hannah, as I certainly enjoyed the book, but it wasn't up to the standard of Agatha Christie. It wasn't fan-fiction, though. Much better than that. So, not a bad book, but much too involved and not quite genuine Christie fare.
A somewhat enjoyable romp featuring a young Scotland Yard detective as part-time narrator (but even he admits he lets Poirot take over too much which is unbelievable and condescending on Poirot's part). It's way too complicated and some of it could have been left out without affecting the plot (SLIGHT SPOILER) (the whole thing about the white vs. blue bowl.) In the end I gave up trying to figure out whodunit, realizing there were dozens of twists still to come and most of the characters weren't telling the truth.
It was fun to read a story about Poirot again. Very close to the original. The plot was a little convoluted but it was an ok read.
If you would like to read a mystery that features characters from Agatha Christie and a complex mystery plot, but without several key characteristics of most Agatha Christie novels, then this book is for you.
I thought this book was an interesting read. However, it has enough differences in style and plot that it cannot really be considered another Agatha Christie (besides the use of her characters). I thought it was more interesting as far as plot twists and turns than some of her not as well acclaimed works, but nowhere near the quality of her greatest works. I just read this book for the second time (perhaps that says something that I wasn't sure if I had read it previously or not). The first time I read it the plot convolutions were difficult to follow; reading it the second time and remembering some details it made more sense although some plot details still seemed a bit unbelievable and/ or very un- Agatha Christie. (**Spoiler alert**): Very little is said about the vicar, but he must have been a very handsome and very charismatic person for 3 women to fall so strongly in love with him! That would be my first point of the plot being a bit unbelievable. The second is that there apparently are no nice or likeable people in Great Holling besides perhaps Margaret Ernst and the doctor. This also seems quite anti-Christie, because many of her mysteries are set in small towns and even though there is (obviously) a murderer in the town, the town itself is not a menacing, evil figure the way (in my opinion) Great Holling is in this novel. I agree that Poirot seems a bit meaner (as far as not giving Catchpool any hints) than in other mysteries, I don't remember him being so obsessed with the arrangement of silverware, and in the first few chapters he uses more French phrases than I remember him using in other mysteries. I also find it difficult to believe that Richard Negus, after trying to drink himself to death for 15 years, finds the energy to write to Jennie and set up the whole thing, or that Nancy could have helped with murdering people, or that after 15 years of Nancy helping Jennie, the news that Nancy did not have a "chaste" relationship with Patrick (and as a housemaid, you'd think Jennie would already know this) makes Jennie homicidal. The multiple explanations of what really happened were frustrating and confusing, even though I was reading it for the second time. I think the biggest un-Christie like disappointment is that there is no "happy ending"... usually there is always a couple who perhaps have been misunderstood or under suspicion but at the end of the novel, are free to go off and live happily ever after. Margaret Ernst and Dr. Ambrose really don't fit the bill.
I thought this was a Christie that I'd missed, only to find out it's a fake Christie, so am returning it unread. And from the other comments here, maybe just as well.
I was excited to find a Poirot mystery where I didn't know "who done it", even if it wasn't written by Christie herself. In my opinion Sophie Hannah's done a great job following Christie's style of writing and keeping us in the dark almost to the very end about the real culprit or culprits. The story has so many twist, turns and characters that one gets a bit dizzy from all the information that for long stretches of time goes nowhere. Sometimes I did want it to get to the point (any point!) a bit faster. Hannah stays mostly true to Poirot' character and quirks, although I felt she over-did it with his obsessiveness with symmetry and order. I feel to mention it a couple of times would've been enough. I also didn't like how he absolutely refused to give ANY information to that poor Catchpool, insisting he's making him a better detective. It felt very arrogant and, pardon a strong word, sadistic. Other than that, I found the book interesting and exciting.
let me just say: ms. hannah is NO Agatha Christie!
I read everything Agatha Christie wrote when I was in my teens, and loved them all. This book did not recapture them for me. The plot was complicated, but it seemed contrived, just so Poirot could show off his superior intellect. I did not connect with any of the characters, who seemed one-dimensional. It is hard to believe these characters loved as deeply as the book claimed they did. I finished the book in hope my effort would be rewarded. I should have read something else.
Perhaps the success of Hannah's first effort to continue Agatha Christie's Poirot series will encourage her to write a better one next time. The plot is the best feature -- if you ignore the unnecessary padding. Too many words are spent on Catchpool's psychological issues. The Christie fan will want to read -- but only because Sophie Hannah constructs a Christie-like plot...even if she does over-complicate it a tad.
Aside from having a character called Poirot, this book has almost nothing in common with an Agatha Christie. The writing style is ponderous and repetitive, the characters have no appeal, and the plot is ridiculously convoluted. Poirot is not well served.
red_baboon_585 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 15 and 15
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