Closed Casket, published by Sophie Hannah in 2017, is the second of Hannah’s attempts to continue Agatha Christie’s mystery series featuring eccentric and brilliant Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. She has devised a plot intricate enough to mimic Christie and hasn’t done a bad job of presenting Poirot. Scotland Yard Inspector Edward Catchpool, narrator of most of the story and Poirot’s foil, is also well done. The rest of my comments explain why I will avoid Hannah’s first outing of the reimagined Poirot and any third or following volumes.
One of Christie’s great strengths was her ability to create a great variety of plausible characters, some of whom turned out to be murderers but none of whom were obviously deranged or psychopathic (and if they were, it would turn out to be a red herring). The characters chosen by Hannah to populate a Christie-style 1920’s mansion, by contrast, are uniformly weird. They’re so peculiar, in fact, that I wonder if Hannah has made them so peculiar and unsympathetic as a kind of homage by exaggeration. Because none of them are at all believable, the entire plot collapses, depending as it does on unreal people behaving more and more strangely.
Too bad. It was a good idea.