As a disclaimer, I’d like to say that I am an Agatha Christie fan. I’ve read most of her books over the years - And Then There Were None is one of my favourite books of all time and I also really like her Poirot stories.
While I’m definitely a fan, I wouldn’t say I’m a purist. When I heard another author - and a respected crime writer at that - had brought out a new Poirot book, I was interested to read it. I didn’t care where it fit in the canon, and I haven’t read any of Sophie Hannah’s other books, but I was interested in seeing what she’d done.
Usually when I give a bad review, I start off with what I did like about the book. Unfortunately, I didn’t like anything about this book. From the opening pages, I was just bored.
The characters were bland and uninteresting. Poirot has suddenly gone from being one of the most idiosyncratic characters in literature to this boring little man with no spark or interest to him. The narrator, Detective Catchpool was the thickest policeman I’ve ever read about. Seriously, if I’m ever murdered I hope to god Scotland Yard get someone a bit cleverer than Detective Catchpool on the case. And for a detective, he’s really squeamish about dead bodies. Maybe no one at Police School thought to pre-warn him that he’d be seeing them occasionally. He has this ongoing thing where he has flashbacks to when his granddad died and he had to go and view his body but it never really gets resolved. I didn’t care.
Their dialogue between Poirot and Catchpool was boring and rambly. All Poirot does is sigh at Catchpool, tell him how he’s being blind and then go on to explain things.
The surrounding characters were bland and one-dimensional. The villagers were caricatures, and not very flattering ones. I didn’t really care about any of them and wasn’t interested in who the murderer turned out to be.
The plot wasn’t terribly complex, but because the prose was so boring I found it really hard to concentrate on what was happening. My eyes kept skimming over the text, so I’d then have to re-read passages. Even now I’m struggling to remember who actually did the murders. I kept wanting to DNF and now I wish I had. The denouement, when it happened, lasted for seventy pages. Seventy! This came after a twenty-two page admission from one of the characters, which turned out to be a lie and only served to confuse me.
The Ive scandal just seemed a bit unbelieveable. I didn’t see how an entire village of people would get behind a gossipy old woman just because they were afraid of what she’d say about them if they stood up to her. Also, was Rev. Patrick Ive secretly Channing Tatum? He had three women so much in love with him that they were willing to murder, defame and die for him.
The writing was dull and had no sparkle or shine to it. Sentences rambled on before petering out without actually getting to the point, making it really hard to work out what point was being made. Again, I just kept thinking how bored I was.
Glad to have finished this book. On to the next one.