Very nearly forty years after the 1975 publication of Curtain, the last (in both senses) Hercule Poirot story, a new Poirot novel, officially sanctioned by the Christie estate, has finally seen the light of day.
Poirot finds himself caught up in the baffling events of a triple murder in the Bloxham Hotel, an exclusive London establishment. The three victims are all found at the same time in separate rooms, each laid out identically and each with a matching monogrammed cufflink in their mouth. At the same moment as the murders are occurring, Poirot encounters a young woman in a cafe who confides in him her certainty that she will soon be killed, and that when it happens no one should try to find her killer. Are these two situations linked? Poirot is the only one who sees a connection.
Written by poet and novelist Sophie Hannah, the story is set in the 1920s, when Poirot was very much London-based and before the globetrotting, internationally-renowned later years of the Nile, Mesopotamia and Orient Express expeditions. But it lacks any of the regular London supporting cast which Christie established; no Hastings, no Miss Lemon, no Chief Inspector Japp. Instead Hannah has created her own companion character, Inspector Edward Catchpool, a fellow resident of the lodging house to which Poirot has temporarily, implausibly, relocated. Catchpool is assigned to the hotel case, and, in his disquiet regarding the situation, he confides in Poirot. Poirot ‘assists’ him in solving the case by taking charge and applying his usual methods.