Silent Night, a review by Joanna

posted in: Joanna | 0

Silent Night

Sophie Hannah

384 pages

Harper Collins

published on October 26th


This is the fifth outing for Sophie Hannah’s authorised new Hercule Poirot mystery series, but the first that I’ve read. In fact, this was my first Agatha Christie since childhood – I read her almost exclusively until secondary school then stopped completely. I didn’t feel I’d missed anything by not reading the first four as I get the impression each is a separate story. I was curious to see how a tale set in 1931 would hold up in modern times, and whether Hannah could match the cleverness of the originals. While I think she does a pretty good job of honouring the source style, I’m not sure that I would bother reading the rest, as I found both Poirot and Catchpool intensely irritating.

Narrated by Scotland Yard detective Inspector Edward Catchpool, this has he and his good friend Poirot preparing to spend a peaceful Christmas in London, when they are peremptorily summoned to Norfolk by Catchpool’s domineering mother Cynthia, who insists that they must solve the murder of a patient in a small private hospital, and stay at her friends’ stately home nearby. Their hostess didn’t know the victim, but has become convinced that it means her own husband will also be killed. The weather is terrible, the food worse, the company suspicious and unpleasant, and the friends face the prospect of a Christmas spent playing a dreadful sounding parlour game!
This had all the classic Christie elements – an cast of unlikeable upper class English twits, a bumbling policeman, and a baffling crime, the solution to which is proudly revealed by Poirot, in the Drawing Room, of course. I didn’t guess whodunnit at all, and while the explanation seemed unlikely, I didn’t feel cheated by the reveal. There’s an awful lot of pontificating and I found the pace very slow – at some point I will go back and read one of the originals but suspect I’ll find I have the same issues. Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Australia for the ARC.

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