I bring you another book in the new series about Poirot adventures by Sophie Hannah:
The Killings at Kingfisher Hill: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie Hannah
The world’s greatest detective, Hercule Poirot—legendary star of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile—returns to solve a fiendish new mystery.
Hercule Poirot is travelling by luxury passenger coach from London to the exclusive Kingfisher Hill estate, where Richard Devonport has summoned him to prove that his fiancée, Helen, is innocent of the murder of his brother, Frank. But there is a strange condition attached to this request: Poirot must conceal his true reason for being there.
The coach is forced to stop when a distressed woman demands to get off, insisting that if she stays in her seat, she will be murdered. Although the rest of the journey passes without anyone being harmed, Poirot’s curiosity is aroused, and his fears are later confirmed when a body is discovered with a macabre note attached…
Could this new murder and the peculiar incident on the coach be clues to solving the mystery of who killed Frank Devonport? And if Helen is innocent, can Poirot find the true culprit in time to save her from the gallows?
About the author:
Hello! Welcome to my Amazon Author Page, and thank you for your interest in me and my books. Below you will find my official biog and all my online links so that you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You’ll also find a link to my Dream Author Coaching Programme for writers, which launched in September 2019.
Oh, and you can see some cute photos of my amazing dog Brewster on this page too! He often leaps onto my laptop while I’m writing and deletes entire paragraphs by accident – so you could say he’s a regular contributor to my literary efforts!
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My Official Biography is as follows:
Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling crime fiction writer whose books have sold millions of copies worldwide. Her crime novels have been translated into 49 languages and published in 51 countries. Her psychological thriller The Carrier won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the 2013 UK National Book Awards. In 2014 and 2016, Sophie published The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket, the first new Hercule Poirot mysteries since Agatha Christie’s death, both of which were national and international bestsellers. She went on to publish a third, The Mystery of Three Quarters in 2018 which was an instant bestseller, and her fourth Poirot novel, The Killings at Kingfisher Hill will be published in August 2020. Sophie helped to create a Master’s Degree in Crime and Thriller Writing at the University of Cambridge, for which she is the main teacher and Course Director. She is also the founder of the Dream Author Coaching Programme for writers which launched in September 2019.
Sophie is also an award-winning, bestselling poet, and her poetry is studied at GCSE level across the UK. She has co-written two murder mystery musicals with composer Annette Armitage: The Mystery of Mr. E and Work Experience. She has written a self-help book called How To Hold a Grudge: From Resentment to Contentment – The Power of Grudges to Transform Your Life, and hosts the How to Hold a Grudge podcast.
Sophie lives with her husband, children and dog in Cambridge, where she is an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College.
And I can be found online here:
Thanks to NetGalley and to Harper Collins UK for the ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review. Although this is the fourth book in this series written by Sophie Hannah, it is the second I’ve read (you can check my review of The Mystery of Three Quarters here).
Having read the novel and re-read my review, I realise that much of what I said about the previous book applies here, so I won’t elaborate on those points. What I can tell you now is that I enjoyed this novel even more than the last one. I won’t go into details about the ins and outs of the plot, because this is a mystery after all, but let’s say that there are a couple of murders, several murder confessions, clues galore, red herrings by the bucket load, board games, so many secrets and lies that’s difficult to keep track, a variety of motivations for the crimes (true and not), difficult family relationships, a terribly dysfunctional family, and of course, Poirot and his sidekick, inspector Edward Catchpool from Scotland Yard. Catchpool writes the story (in the first person), and often also reports parts of the investigation he has not directly taken part in (as Poirot gives him tasks to complete on his own, and the duo split up at times to cover all bases). He is the Hastings-type character and, despite his profession, as you can imagine Poirot takes the lead and tells him exactly what to do (at the same time giving readers a chance to ask themselves the same questions and to go over the main pieces of the puzzle). At some points he seems to be quite on the ball, but most of the time he is lagging behind Poirot and never dares to challenge him. In this novel there are even fewer of his personal concerns coming through, but that is not what the story is about, and I’m sure readers will be too caught up in the plot to worry about it, as this is a plot-driven story after all and not a psychological thriller.
I enjoyed the variety of clues, the twists and turns, the red-herrings, and although most of the characters are not psychologically complex or well-rounded, I enjoyed the variety they offered and was particularly intrigued by Daisy (not that she is very consistent or likeable, but that is precisely what makes her more interesting). Some of the side topics the story deals in are difficult and morally ambiguous, but the author doesn’t dig too deep, and there is little room for philosophical disquisitions or true heartache in this novel. Yes, even Poirot acknowledges that we might like or sympathise with a criminal and his or her reasons for committing a crime, but according to him, that does not mean they should go unpunished. We might disagree with him, but there is something reassuring in having a protagonist who is not tortured by doubt or self-hatred. Yes, we might want to kick him at times, but we know what we are getting, and he delivers it every time.
There is plenty of telling in the story, and that might not suit people who prefer thrillers or to be immersed in the action all the time. Much of the story involves interrogating suspects, witnesses, or others who might have relevant information, and some of it is not directly observed by Catchpool. There are almost as many narrators as there are characters (some are less than truthful, others are reluctant, infuriatingly detailed…) even though their versions of the story are usually reported by others, and that allows from some nuggets of observation and reflection from Poirot and/or Catchpool (although Poirot does as he is wont to do and plays with some of his cards very close to his chest). There are some touches of humour —funnily named and behaved dogs, bitchy comments, put-downs, witnesses who won’t stop talking and will tell Poirot off for interrupting (a spoonful of his own medicine at last)— that I enjoyed, but readers who are keen on avoiding anything extraneous to the plot might not appreciate them. I’ve also read some comments of people who complained that the writer does not manage to create a true sense of the location or the historical time of the story. It’s true that the author does not spend much time describing the setting, clothing, or other details not essential to the story, but I thought that made readers focus on the plot (and one needs to pay close attention to everything), and I liked the location and the fact that most of the story takes place in a big house, not a mansion but rather a much smaller affair, which goes some way to show times are changing (as does the coach trip).
We have the usual rounding up of all the main characters in the house at the end, and Poirot reveals everything, as he should. Did I guess right? Well, I did guess some things, but not the full explanation. I hang my head low and confess that I was not a match for Poirot’s “little grey cells”.
All in all, this is a book I recommend to fans of Agatha Christie, especially those who have been following this new series by Hannah, to lovers of classical mysteries looking for a puzzle to solve and a fairly light read, that enjoy a challenge and plenty of twists and turns. You won’t be left wondering and worrying about it for long, but you’ll relish it while it lasts and it will help you forget about your daily concerns. A fun read. What more can we ask for?
Thanks to NetGalley, Harper Collins and the author for this fun read, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click review, keep smiling, and remain safe.