Sometimes it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie, or dead writers stay dead. Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah, writing as Agatha Christie, is a good example of the latter. When I found myself unable to get through more than one chapter at time before starting to yawn, I should have realized it wasn’t me. The more I read, the less I liked this story. Hannah can write, there’s no question there, so I imagine that trying to channel the great Christie really put a crimp in her style.
The plot, briefly: famous author Athelinda Playford invites Poirot and Edward Catchpool (the detective from the first Hannah/Christie effort, The Monogram Murders) to her estate in Ireland to witness her announcement that she has changed her will, leaving everything to her secretary, Joseph Scotcher. Predictably, her family reacts badly, and Poirot and Catchpool very soon find themselves looking for a murderer.
I found nothing engaging here. The plot was a jumbled mess, and really didn’t make much sense, even at the end. The characters were cardboard cariacatures of the worst of the “usual suspects” in Christie novels, and were almost universally unlikable. The only exception is Athelinda Playford, who Hannah got right. As a lifelong Christie fan with a special affection for Hercule Poirot, I was less than amused to find him insipid and even bumbling along as this story progressed. Christie’s Poirot would never overlook the obvious clue at the murder scene, which became part of the solution.
I enjoyed The Monogram Murders, and had looked forward to Closed Casket, so was fairly disappointed. Will this keep me from reading future entries in the series? Probably not. As I said, Sophie Hannah can write. Let’s call this one a fluke.