VINTAGE BOOK REVIEW: The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah

The Blurb (from Goodreads):

The world's most beloved detective, Hercule Poirot--the legendary star of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Expressand most recently The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket--returns in a stylish, diabolically clever mystery set in the London of 1930.

Hercule Poirot returns home after an agreeable luncheon to find an angry woman waiting to berate him outside his front door. Her name is Sylvia Rule, and she demands to know why Poirot has accused her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she has neither heard of nor ever met. She is furious to be so accused, and deeply shocked. Poirot is equally shocked, because he too has never heard of any Barnabas Pandy, and he certainly did not send the letter in question. He cannot convince Sylvia Rule of his innocence, however, and she marches away in a rage.

Shaken, Poirot goes inside, only to find that he has a visitor waiting for him -- a man called John McCrodden 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 have 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?

My Thoughts:

Sophie Hannah is a British writer of psychological thrillers who in 2014 was chosen to bring Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s most beloved creation, back to life. The Christie estate is notoriously protective of the brand, but The Monogram Murders, Sophie Hannah’s first foray into recreating her style, was met with almost universal acclaim and was a top five bestseller in more than fifteen countries.  I haven’t read that yet, but was eager to give this Poirot pastiche a go, being a huge Christie fan. Seeing The Mystery of Three Quarters in the airport bookshop, I grabbed it and devoured it in a single sitting.


The mystery has an intriguing premise. Hercule Poirot finds an angry woman waiting on the doorstep of his apartment building. She wants to know why Poirot has accused her of the murder of a man named Barnabas Pandy. Poirot cannot convince her that he did not send the letter of accusation, or that he has never heard of the man. At last she leaves, and Poirot can go inside, only to discover a man is waiting for him within. He too has received a letter accusing him of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, and he too will not believe Poirot did not send it.


Poirot sets out to unravel the puzzle, with his usual passion for order and belief in the exercise of the little grey cells. The resulting obligatory unmasking of the villain is done with great aplomb. I enjoyed it all hugely.

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Kate Forsyth
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