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The Monogram Murders is a work of detective fiction by Sophie Hannah and first published in the UK by HarperCollins in September 2014. It is the first official novel authorised by the Christie estate to feature Christie's detective Hercule Poirot, and his first literary appearance in 38 years.

SummaryEdit

Three corpses are discovered in different rooms of the same London hotel, each with a monogrammed cufflink placed in their mouths. The murders take place in 1929, although the motive proceeds from events some 16 years earlier.

PlotEdit

Poirot is taking a holiday from private-detective work, though in fact he has only travelled to the guest house nearest his London flat; he can even see the flat from the house's parlour window. One evening, while waiting for his dinner in a coffee house he frequents, he is confronted by a distressed young woman who tells him that she is "already dead... or will be soon", but that he absolutely must not pursue her killer. "The crime must never be solved", she pleads.

The next day brings news that three seemingly unconnected people have been murdered in their rooms at the Bloxham Hotel, each with a cuff-link placed carefully in their mouths, and engraved with the initials "PIJ". Furthermore, the staff are alerted to the murders and room numbers by a note left at the front desk, reading "MAY THEY NEVER REST IN PEACE. 121. 238. 317." Poirot, enlisted by investigating Scotland Yard officer Edward Catchpool, whom he meets staying at the same guest house, takes the case, and gradually uncovers a complex web of bigotry, hate, and vengeance.

CharactersEdit

  • Hercule Poirot, famous Belgian detective with magnificent moustaches and little "grey cells".
  • Edward Catchpool

Continuity with Christie's original storiesEdit

The novel is set in 1929, placing it shortly after The Mystery of the Blue Train, published 1928, and roughly three years before Peril at End House, published 1932. It is therefore set in a relatively early stage of Poirot's long career after he settled in England as a refugee from the Great War, following a distinguished career in his native Belgium.

Poirot's occasional sidekick and chronicler Arthur Hastings is absent from this novel; here, his shoes are filled by thirty-two-year-old Scotland Yard policeman Edward Catchpool, who, like Hastings, serves as the first-person narrator. Hannah has stated that she wanted to avoid reusing any of Christie's supporting cast.

Commissioning by Agatha Christie estateEdit

The Monogram Murders is the first original novel including Hercule Poirot to be commissioned by the Christie estate, more than thirty-eight years after her death in 1976. It is the thirty-fourth novel to feature the character. Agatha Christie wrote her last Poirot novel, Elephants Can Remember, in 1972. The last featuring Poirot and written by Christie was Curtain: Poirot's Last Case, published 1975 but written in the 1940s to be a swansong.

Publication historyEdit

  • 2014, HarperCollins (London), September 2014, Hardback, 384 pp

International titlesEdit

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