Yes, it's another Agatha Christie novel. No, I'm not joking. Just get with the program already.
The Monogram Murders - Sophie Hannah
I’m a dead woman, or I shall be soon…’
Hercule Poirot's quiet supper in a London coffeehouse is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified – but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.
Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London Hotel have been murdered, and a cufflink has been placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim...
Now, full disclosure: I have never, ever read an Agatha Christie novel. No, I am not even kidding. I honestly don't know what my problem is, or why I haven't read any, but from what I gather some high schools have it as required reading. Mine did not. We read Ray Bradbury and other things. Most notable was the play version of The Crucible, and our instructor stood on a desk to read her part and that right there made that one of my favorite books of all time. Anytime you have a teacher waving a broom in the air, yelling at you, and stomping on a desk in the front of the room, you've got yourself a gem of a teacher and a story right there.
But with that being said, that means I also have not read any other Hercule Poirot stories, and after reading this one, I'm going to change that. Not because this story was so amazing, but because now I want to compare notes on Sophie Hannah's take on this character and Agatha Christie's. The biggest criticism of this book is that it is long, it is tedious, and it is slow. So, that's three things all rolled into one. I was hooked instantly when we meet a lady who basically declares herself a dead person and then rushes out. Then we find out about three murders in London, all very suspicious, and Hercule Poirot is just sure that the mysterious woman and these three bizarre murders are all connected.
You know the show House, M.D.? Or Vincent D'Onofrio's character in Law & Order: Criminal Intent? Hercule Poirot reminds me exactly of those polarizing characters. Highly intelligent, but also very peculiar in their methods of solving the larger puzzle. So if you like that kind of character, this is going to be a hit for you.
But the problem is that even 3/4 through the book I was really struggling. Like really struggling with finishing. I felt like the author was trying so hard to achieve a level of easy writing where the plot just unfolds with you like a tide, and no- it wasn't that at all. I'm sure she's a great writer for her own novels where her particular writing style fits, but it just didn't fit here. Then once we finally solve the puzzle, I sat there thinking, "What? No, this can't be at all. This is dumb and makes no sense at all." I was pretty disappointed overall. I think the only reason I held on until the very end was that I was hoping it would have this supreme twist at the end that made all of the rambling and tedious description of things that are meaningless, worth it. Sadly, that's not the case. If you are looking for something to fill your Agatha Christie hole, I'm going to venture that this isn't going to be it.