Lady Athelinda Playford has planned a house party at her mansion in Clonakilty, County 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 has only weeks to live.
Among Lady Playford's guests are two men she has never met – the famous Belgian detective, 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 presence of a possible killer?
Reviewed on 8th October 2016
Sophie Hannah returns to pen her second Hercule Poirot novel in what appears to be becoming an officially sanctioned continuation series (although in the originals, there is little continuity between stories, and here we have several direct references to the previous story).
This time Poirot, and our returning narrator, Inspector Catchpole, are summoned to Ireland to the home of a dowager countess who plans to make a startlingly my announcement. It's hardly a spoiler to say that murder ensues, and we join the sleuths as they investigate.
Hannah captures brilliantly the balance of crime and humour that Christie's own works were populated with, particularly with the character who I felt was Enid Blyton-esque (though others have suggested it's Christie herself) who adds the necessary touch of comedy that keeps this style of whodunnit from becoming dark and gritty like much of the modern crime genre.
I was not massively impressed with Hannah's previous Poirot book, but this time felt that she had got it spot on - an excellent mystery which only mostly baffled me until the end.