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The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah

The Mystery of Three Quarters is the third novel of the crime fiction series of the internationally bestselling British author, Sophie Hannah. Following The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket, this book is centred on the adventures of Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, the famed creation of the queen of crime fiction, Agatha Christie. The story is set in 1930s London and narrated by Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard.

In the middle of a mild day in February, nobody would suspect anything out of the ordinary. A light breeze flows. The comfort of harmony and contentment is something Hercule Poirot enjoys. His home, Whitehaven Mansions, imitates his penchant for order. All it takes is one disturbance, one ripple on a still pond, for a Poirot adventure to begin.

Returning home from a pleasant luncheon, Poirot meets a woman, Mrs. Sylvia Rule, widow to Clarence Rule, who berates him for writing a letter accusing her with the murder of a certain Barnabas Pandy. Both are shocked and deeply puzzled. Neither of them have ever known or met this man. After Mrs. Rule leaves, Poirot encounters a Mr. John McCrodden, who also has a letter of accusation penned by Poirot. A Miss Annabel Treadaway and a Mr. Hugo Dockerill come to Pandy with the same mysterious letters. Mr. Dockerill is a housemaster at Turville College. Miss Treadaway, to whom Mr. Dockerill once proposed marriage, is Pandy’s granddaughter.

On the seventh of December, ninety-four-year-old Barnabas Pandy was found dead in his bathtub in his home, Combingham Hall. Those living with him at the time were Annabel, her sister Lenore Lavington, Lenore’s children, Ivy and Timothy, and their servant Kingsbury. Catchpool and Poirot tread through numerous names, theories, alibis, red herrings, and possibilities on their search for truth. Who really wrote the letters? Who was responsible for Pandy’s death?

Hannah’s storytelling is polished and economical. I highly commend the novel’s heavy dialogue. Each character is fleshed out. Their stories and ideas branch out yet remain connected to a solid plot. An engaging and entertaining novel, The Mystery of Three Quarters would be ideal for all readers, especially aficionados of detective fiction.

Reviewer: Azariah Alfante

HarperCollins, RRP $35.00


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