A Book Spy Review: ‘The Killings at Kingfisher Hill’ by Sophie Hannah

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The Killings at the Kingfisher hillSophie Hannah continues her fabulous run of tightly-wound mysteries with yet another compelling adventure starring the world’s most beloved detective, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.

Nothing is quite what it seems in this brilliant novel from Hannah, including the reason Hercule Poirot and his sidekick—Scotland Yard’s Inspector Edward Catchpool, who serves as the story’s narratorare heading to Kingfisher Hill, the exclusive estate owned by the Devonport family.

Most of the Davenport’s believe Poirot is traveling to Surrey because of the board game that Richard Davenport created a year prior. In reality, Poirot is en route via luxury passenger coach because Richard has asked him to come to Kingfisher Hill in order to clear his fiance, Helen Acton, of murder. His one condition: nobody can know the real reason for Poirot’s visit.

Frank Davenport, Richard’s older brother, died nearly a year before. Helen stands accused of pushing him to his death and even confessed to the crime shortly after, but that doesn’t mean Richard believes her, and proving her innocence won’t be easy—making it the perfect case for Poirot.

First, though, Hercule needs to get there, an adventure in of itself, especially when a woman on the coach claims that she needs to switch seats or she’ll be murdered. The opening, which serves as an entertaining prelude to the rest of the mystery, leaves Poirot feeling uneasy about the woman’s claim. Later, his intuition proves correct when a body is found at the Davenport’s home, along with a note to Poirot about his seat-swapping business that took place before his arrival—begging the question: could the events somehow be connected?

Realizing there is a game afoot, Poirot puts his reputation as the most clever investigator to the test in hopes of clearing Helen and finding the real killer before they can strike again, as Hannah takes readers down a labyrinthine of clues, red-herrings, and misdirection galore.

This being her fourth book in what’s been coined “the new Hercule Poirot mysteries,” it’s clear Hannah has settled into the role of keeping Christie’s famed detective alive and well. Writing with authority here, she weaves a stunning plot that feels very much comparable to such iconic titles as Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile. Make no mistake about it, this is the same Hercule Poirot fans know and love, but Hannah deserves all the recognition in the world and then some for modernizing the way in which the story’s told just enough that the pacing is noticeably quicker, making it that much harder to put it down.

Moreover, the incredible job Hannah’s done staying true to Christie’s characters, while also developing a mystery worthy of dropping them into, is just as impressive. There certainly was a time when it was hard to imagine anyone else writing Hercule Poirot, but Hannah’s emergence as one of the finest writers on the scene today has helped usher in a new era of old school mysteries—and just like before, Poirot is once again leading the way.

A masterfully plotted, mind-bending crime thriller that harkens back to the days when Agatha Christie ruled the genre, The Killings at Kingfisher Hill is hands down the best mystery novel of 2020 so far.

Book Details

Author: Sophie Hannah
Series: The New Hercule Poirot Mysteries # 4
Pages: 288 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0062792377
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: September 15, 2020
Real Book Spy Rating: 9.5/10

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Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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