The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah
Published by: Harper Collins
Fiction, 284 pages
Rating: 3.75/5 stars
Returning home after lunch one day, Hercule Poirot finds an angry woman waiting outside his front door. She demands to know why Poirot has sent her a letter accusing her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she has neither heard of nor ever met.
Poirot has also never heard of a Barnabas Pandy, and has accused nobody of murder. Shaken, he goes inside, only to find that he has a visitor waiting for him — a man who also claims also to have received a letter from Poirot that morning, accusing him of the murder of Barnabas Pandy…
Poirot wonders how many more letters of this sort has been sent in his name. Who sent them, and why? More importantly, who is Barnabas Pandy, is he dead, and, if so, was he murdered? And can Poirot find out the answers without putting more lives in danger?
About the author:
Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling writer of psychological crime fiction, and published in 27 countries. In 2013, her novel, The Carrier, won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards. Two of Sophie’s crime novels have been adapted for television and appeared on ITV1. In 2004, Sophie won first prize in the Daphne Du Maurier Festival Short Story Competition for her suspense story The Octopus Nest.
*Thank you Harper Collins India for this review copy! All opinions are my own.
It is a fact that no other writer can ever fill in the shoes of the original writer, more so when the original one has a cult following: there are bound to be comparisons and a drawing of ranks. I am really glad that Sophie Hannah has resurrected Hercule Poirot and though I have not read any of her writings before I got hold of this copy, I must say I enjoyed turning the pages, following Poirrot as he tries to convince 4 people that he hasn’t written them separate letters accusing them of murdering someone he does not know at all!
Assisting Poirot and serving as the narrator is Inspector Edward Catchpool whose name gives me a happy chuckle since it rhymes with Deadpool (!) and whose reflections on Poirot’s eccentricities serve as the perfect balance for the later’s self admiration for his cleverness.
The Mystery of Three Quarters is in the template of Christie’s Poirot series that uses the process of deduction and elimination to arrive at the core of mystery solving. Poirot of course always loves an audience and we see that in the way all suspects are brought together towards the finale of this narrative that accuses four people of having murdered someone. I loved the back stories of the characters in the story and the way they are linked to each other: there are secrets, there is family drama and of course, a house help.
The best thing about a majority part of the book is how readers are strung along the way into looking at why and how an old man, Barnabas Pandy has been killed. It is only in the last quarter of the book that one finds out things are not as they have been set for us. So yes! The red herrings that are so integral in Christie’s works are there and so are the usual suspects. The play of ‘three quarters’ doffs its head perfectly to the narrative and I loved the interplay of views on death by hanging/capital punishment for certain criminal acts versus the call for life imprisonment.
With temperatures dropping in Imphal, I thoroughly enjoyed this read. I will definitely recommend this to fans of Christie’s writing style. But yes! If you do keep aside your instincts to compare Christie with Sophie Hannah, you will enjoy this much better!