3 ways The Mystery of Three Quarters will keep you engaged


If you need your mysteries to be a little old-school, Sophie Hannah’s The Mystery of Three Quarters is about as new-old-school as it gets.

There are certainly ages of mysteries and detective stories, and though the Golden Age of Detective Fiction may have passed long ago, there are still authors keeping it alive. Sophie Hannah takes that a step further, though, with her series of pastiches of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. William Morrow sent along the latest, The Mystery of Three Quarters.

Even after reading the first two, this one felt the most distinctly like classic Christie in terms of pacing and plot. (More on that in a moment, with an attempt to not spoil things as much as possible.)

It’s a solid weekend read, and here are three ways you might finding yourself reading more than you expected to.

Intricate connections

If you’ve read pretty much any Christie, you know that things aren’t always as they appear. The title of this novel comes from the fact that at first glance, one of the four people sent a letter forged to look like it’s from Poirot himself doesn’t seem to fit with the other three. Naturally, Poirot sees this while looking at a piece of “church window cake” (probably Battenberg cake, for those baking enthusiasts who also like mysteries).

Hannah leans into these connections, slowly revealing layer after layer of who knows whom and how that is the case. Granted, this might seem a bit too on-the-nose for those hoping that Hannah will accomplish something new with the character’s mysteries, but considering that Christie’s signature is on the very top of the dust jacket, if you’re expecting something groundbreaking, you’re probably reading the wrong book anyway.

Resistance to going all-in

Hannah, throughout the course of the book, has the opportunity to escalate things further; when it came to Closed Casket, the previous work in her series, I pointed out that things got a little too overboard in some places. To keep things a little lighter — this is a story that involves copious amounts of cake, after all — the violence is toned down again, but there’s still a little blood and definitely some traumatic events. This is, after all, still a mystery.

However, the note of restraint actually makes things more enjoyable once again.

Some actual doubt

For a bit, it seems as though Poirot might not actually solve the mystery. Now, it’s totally unreasonable to expect that Poirot won’t solve it, because that would ruin the fun. However, it shows that the detective isn’t completely infallible. Moreover, the cast also undergoes some crises of their own when it comes to character, and Hannah develops said characters well enough for that to both ring true but also lend some emotional weight to the plot.

Next. Review: The Governess Game, Tessa Dare. dark

All in all, the Mystery of Three Quarters will satisfy fans and might even bring in fans who need something new of Poirot.