Author: Sophie Hannah
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publishing Date: 20 August 2020
Hercule Poirot is perhaps the world’s most beloved detective. Agatha Christie detested the eccentric Belgian detective but Poirot has a place of honour in the hearts of many readers. Sophie Hannah’s Poirot novels make an interesting read although they are nowhere close to Christie’s original ones. I enjoyed reading Closed Casket, the second novel of Sophie’s Poirot’s novel. But I was a little disappointed with Killings at Kingfisher Hill.
Hercule Poirot is travelling by the exclusive Kingfisher coach to Kingfisher Hill, an luxury estate where the rich have their country homes. He is accompanied by his sidekick Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard. Poirot has been summoned by Richard Devonport to prove his fiancee, Helen, is innocent of the murder of his brother Frank Devonport. However, there is one strange condition attached to Richard Devonport’s request- Poirot must not divulge his real reason in coming to Kingfisher Hill to the rest of the Devonport family. On the way to Kingfisher Hill, a frightened woman leaps up, demanding to disembark. She fears that if she stays seated she will be murdered. Poirot swaps his seat with the woman and the journey continues without any further incident. However, in a bizarre twist, the woman’s body is discovered in the Devonport family home with a macabre note referring to the ‘seat’. Is the woman connected to Frank Devonport? How are the murders connected and if yes then who is the murderer?
Sophie includes many aspects of the Golden Age of Crime in Killings at Kingfisher Hill. There is a bunch of unlikable suspects, a country home, confessions and a climax when everyone gathers to hear the conclusion. I liked the fact that Sophie’s Hercule Poirot is still fastidious when it comes to ‘order and method’ and prefers to use his ‘little grey cells’ rather than running around here and there. Poirot is still eccentric and egoistical. He believes his infallible capabilities will unravel the mystery behind two gruesome murders. Sophie’s Poirot is very close to Christie’s original one.
The plot of Killings at Kingfisher Hills is complicated with quite a few twists. I found the beginning of the novel to be a bit confusing. There were to many details and it was difficult to get in the flow of the story. Catchpool is supposed to be a sidekick but he does little to assist Poirot in his investigation. He does the usual police work but when it comes to giving some insight into the problem he has no contribution. I found the mystery drab and confusing. There were many characters, which are essentially good in a mystery because it allows for more suspects, but because of the labyrinthine nature of the plot, they were either under developed or just sidelined later.
I found the story far-fetched. It just didn’t sound plausible. Christie’s characters had motive and the psychology behind the motive was always interesting but i didn’t find it in this story. The conclusion was disappointing and left me wanting for more. In many places, I felt, that some scenes were included just for the sake of convenience.
I honestly wanted to like Killings at Kingfisher Hill but I was disappointed. This is definitely not Sophie Hannah’s best Poirot novel. I recommend reading Closed Casket. You can totally skip this one.
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