Friday 24 January 2020

Crime: Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

Harper Collins, €15

Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah
Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

Barbara Clinton

Agatha Christie experts say the author's writing created a form of addiction, or need, that kept the reader hooked from mystery start to finish, and from one novel to the next.

Sophie Hannah masters the Christie who-done-it craft in yet another adventure of the diminutive Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, about whom Christie herself wrote in excess of 35 novels. This time Poirot finds himself in the south of Ireland and without his usual trusty Scotland Yard sidekick by his side.

Hannah packs her story full of all the unusual suspects in a suspense mystery replete with big house and seemingly all-powerful matriarch, who is herself a writer of mystery stories for children. And here there are disaffected adult children, in-laws, at least one outsider, jealousy, obsession, fear and greed.

And, of course, there is murder. These characters share an enviable array of motives for murder between them.

But things are not what they seem and no matter how much of a Christie or Poirot expert you are, you will be surprised at every turn. Even the giveaway title turns out to be part of the intrigue.

The Clonakilty, Co Cork, setting will not prove dislocating for Christie fans. Once inside Lillioak it makes little difference whether that big house drawing room is in Clonakilty, West Cork, or Beachy Head, East Sussex. All that matters in the end is that we learn "who done it" - and Christie herself would have found Hannah's mystery a difficult one to unravel.

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