Agatha Christie nerd Sophie Hannah brings back legendary detective Hercule Poirot – but not from the dead.
ELLE: When were you first introduced to Agatha Christie?
Sophie Hannah: I first read Agatha Christie at 12, when my father bought The Body In The Library for me at a second-hand book fair. I adored it. By the time I was 14, I had a full collection of battered paperbacks – all the Poirots, all the Marples, everything. I became a lifelong Agatha addict.
ELLE: Have you changed Poirot any?
SH: It was suggested to me that the only sensible way to approach such a project is to do something revolutionary with the character and the format. Poirot on a spaceship? Post-apocalyptic Poirot? Sacré tonnerre, as he might say. The only proper approach is to bring a case – a complex, labyrinthine mystery with plenty of moral dilemmas – to the only Hercule Poirot we know, Agatha’s Poirot. It’s important to note that I haven’t brought him back from the dead. He remains dead at the end of Curtain (1975). My novel is set in 1929, while he’s still relatively young and fit!
ELLE: Christie said she found Poirot “detestable” and only kept him going for 55 years for the fans.
SH: It was perhaps resentment at being saddled with him for longer than she’d have liked, but I can’t believe she could have truly hated him – the idea upsets me too much. My own feelings for Poirot are far less complex – I just straightforwardly love him. The way he is equally committed to justice and compassion. He is usually sad that the murderer has ruined their own life and in occasional circumstances, lets them go unpunished. I am also intrigued by his lack of love life, given how obviously attuned he is to love and romance.
The Monogram Murders (HarperCollins) is out this month