Lady Athelinda Playford has planned a house party at her mansion in Clonakilty, Co Cork, but it is no ordinary gathering. As guests arrive, Lady Playford summons her lawyer to make an urgent change to her will – one she intends to announce at dinner that night. She has decided to cut off her two children without a penny and leave her fortune to someone who only has weeks to live, and she refuses to explain why…
Among Lady Playford’s guests are two men she has never met – the famous Belgian dectective, Hercule Poirot, and Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard. Neither knows why he has been invited…until Poirot starts to wonder if Lady Playford expects a murderer to strike. But why does she seem so determined to provoke, in the the presence of a possible killer? And why, when the crime is committed in spite of Poirot’s best efforts to stop it, does the identity of the victim make no sense at all?
Worldbuilding: The Clonakilty setting was a charming background for the story, and I really enjoyed Lillieoak.
Characters: I’m very happy to say Catchpool developed a lot since The Monogram Murders, and I got a way clearer sense of his personality (and of him having one, in fact). Some of his lack of confidence dissipated, and I felt he was more of a partner to Poirot than a dumb bumbling-about lackey. He was funny, he had ideas, picked up on clue, and was trully relevant to the mystery-solving process.
Poirot came through as himself, and I really liked the rest of the characters too, to be honest. The whole Playford cast was pretty fascinating, and I loved the shifting perspectives on them as the story progressed.
Plot: The story is pretty complex and layered, yet the culprit is (as per Agatha Christie’s habit) ever-present throughout. I loved the background of events and the pace of the investigation.
Writing: First person, past tense narrative, Catchpool’s POV for the vast majority of it. I actually enjoyed his voice.
Curb Appeal: Nice cover, hooking blurb – from now on, impulsive buy material for my Poirot craving moods for sure.
I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed Closed Casket, after reading The Monogram Murders and feeling a bit disappointed. It is a new take on Poirot mysteries, but I feel that with this baby Sophie Hannah really has a great direction and I hope like hell that the next novels in this new series will stick to it.