If someone told me 10 years ago that an author would continue the Hercule Poirot stories, and I’d love them, I would never have believed them. In fact, all credit to Sophie Hannah, because I would have made a bet that Hercule Poirot’s Silent Night is a mystery written by Agatha Christie herself, if I didn’t know any better.
It’s 19 December 1931. Hercule Poirot and Inspector Edward Catchpool are called to investigate the murder of a man in the apparent safe haven of a Norfolk hospital ward. Catchpool’s mother, the irrepressible Cynthia, insists that Poirot stays in a crumbling mansion by the coast, so that they can all be together for the festive period while Poirot solves the case. Cynthia’s friend Arnold is soon to be admitted to that same hospital and his wife is convinced he will be the killer’s next victim, though she refuses to explain why.
Poirot has less than a week to solve the crime and prevent more murders, if he is to escape from this nightmare scenario and get home in time for Christmas. Meanwhile, someone else – someone utterly ruthless – also has ideas about what ought to happen to Hercule Poirot…
Genre: Mystery, Crime
Publisher: Harper Collins
Format I read it in: Hardcover
The book carries intensity from the very first chapters. Catchpool’s mother, Cynthia, comes to Poirot with a rather urgent request, or dare I say, plea for help. With this also comes a Christmas party invitation, something Catchpool would gladly avoid. But something about the story provokes Poirot’s curiosity, and they’re off to meet Cynthia’s friends and stay at their house.
“Try placing an unmarked page in front of you. Immediately, your mind will produce better ideas.”
I was gripped by the whole atmosphere and the family dynamics.
We find out things as we go, and I try to connect the people we meet and get a feel for their innocence. As is usual with a Poirot mystery, we have a lot of suspects, a lot of possibilities and maybe’s – and the truth kept under wraps (I promise, it’s not a Christmas pun) until the very end. If you are looking for the grand finale of a reveal – Silent Night definitely has it! I had my own theories, and as is the tradition, none of them were even close. But boy, oh boy, did I enjoy this book. Mystery and festivities merged brilliantly, and the perfect length to keep you interested without ever getting boring.
“The thing about dealing with excessively melancholy people, I have noticed – those who carry clouds of gloom with them everywhere they go – is that one loses the will to cheer them up. In their orbit, one is robbed of the notion that one can do anything to improve one’s own situation or theirs.”
The only thing I was unsure of was that a few parts were left in the open. Some mysterious and secret romances were mentioned, but never resolved. And we never got the other side of the story. The house’s situation wasn’t really discussed further, and it seemed like a crucial part of the story. And two sisters re-kindled way too abruptly in my opinion and without a lot of explanation, that I personally didn’t enjoy.
“The worst part of any terrible thing, always, is the dread one feels in advance.”
It’s also worth noting that I loved Edgar Albert Guest’s poem section that randomly made its way into the book. There is something precious when one book leads you to the work of another author.
One thing is for certain – I will definitely be looking into the other Poirot books by Sophie Hannah. And if you need a festive mystery recommendation for the winter, let this be the one. Until the next book! x
About The Author:
Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling writer of psychological crime fiction, published in 27 countries. In 2013, The Carrier, won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards. The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives, have been adapted for television under the series title Case Sensitive in 2011 and 2012. In 2004, Sophie won first prize in the Daphne Du Maurier Festival Short Story Competition for The Octopus Nest, which is now published in her collection of short stories, The Fantastic Book of Everybody’s Secrets.