When Sophie Hannah first began her continuation of the Hercule Poirot series with The Monogram Murders, there were many skeptical readers wondering both why and if it could ever be successful. Never one to back down from a challenge—and spurred on by the Christie estate—Sophie Hannah has proven that the idea had legs and has now just released the fifth in her series of novels—Hercule Poirot’s Silent Night. Damn Agatha Christie loved a holiday-themed mystery, so it is easy to imagine she would respect that choice here.
Once again, Sophie Hannah uses Scotland Yard Inspector Edward Catchpool as her voice in Poirot’s world. Over the course of the novels, we have seen more of Agatha Christie’s characteristics of Hercule himself play out on the page, so purists can feel they are in comfortable hands.
In Hercule Poirot’s Silent Night, Catchpool would prefer to do just about anything for the holiday rather than spending it with his mother at Frellingsloe House, her ramshackle estate. So, of course, that is what becomes necessary. A death at a local hospital has Cynthia Catchpool out of sorts. Cynthia’s friend Arnold is due to be admitted to that same hospital and his wife is convinced he will be the next victim, but no one understands why. Certainly Hercule Poirot can figure this out—before the Christmas season is ruined.
The 1931 time period and all the holiday traditions make for a read that feels suitably vintage, while Sophie Hannah also manages to mine a bit more psychological depth for her narrative than would have been so overtly obvious in true Golden Age mysteries.
Hercule Poirot’s Silent Night unravels at a leisurely pace which somehow seems fitting for the holiday setting. Perfect to accompany a cup of hot cocoa by the fireplace, but also easy enough to set aside for a moment to check on the meal preparation. With the countdown to Christmas acting as an artificial timeclock, readers will find the pace increasing as the time passes. The chapters are broken up into days—December 19-December 25—with chapter titles for each that hint at the action that will occur.
There’s no indication if future entries in Sophie Hannah’s Hercule Poirot series are planned, but based on the five that are already available, it seems like there is still both interest and cases to solve for our favorite Belgian detective. Join him for this wonderfully complex Christmas mystery, Hercule Poirot’s Silent Night.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.