Book Review: Closed Casket

When Lady Athelinda Playford, author of a famous childrens' mystery book series, plans a house party at her big mansion, little does anyone know what exactly she has in mind. And to top it all, two of her guests are people she's never met - Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and Scotland Yard inspector Edward Catchpool (both characters continue to remain singularly uninteresting as they were in The Monogram Murders, Sophie Hannah's first novel featuring the private investigator). Even Poirot wonders why he has been invited, leading him to believe there may be something larger at play.

His suspicions are soon justified when, at the party, Lady Playford announces to her family and guests her decision to change the will, one that will entirely cut her son and daughter in favour of her secretary of six years who strangely has mere weeks to live. The move predictably stirs up tension among family members and brings out their acrimony for each other in the open, finally culminating in a murder that's quite intricate and yet "one the most straightforward." Hannah sets up the scenes quite well, in a way that's reminiscent of Agatha Christie, yet she quite doesn't capture her voice. While the denouement ties up all loose ends satisfactorily, one cannot help but be disappointed by a general lack of momentum in storytelling and the convenient fact that the core 'mystery' remains a mystery.