Agatha Christie sleuth Poirot to return in new novel

Sophie Hannah and Mathew Prichard Christie's grandson Mathew Prichard said it was "pure serendipity" that led to Hannah being commissioned

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Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie's famous moustachioed Belgian sleuth, is to return in a new novel backed by the author's family.

Crime novelist and poet Sophie Hannah will write the as-yet-untitled book, which will be published in September 2014.

It will be the first official novel to continue Agatha Christie's work.

Hannah said Christie was the writer who made her "fall in love with mystery fiction" at the age of 13.

Start Quote

I hope to create a puzzle that will confound and frustrate the incomparable Hercule Poirot for at least a good few chapters.”

End Quote Sophie Hannah

"I read and collected all her novels within a year, and have been a passionately - some might even say obsessively - devoted fan ever since.

"It was Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple who, between them, made me want to devote my working life to crime fiction and it was Christie's brilliant plotting and deep understanding of the human psyche that shaped my identity as a crime writer.

"Therefore, it is almost impossible to put into words how honoured I am to have been entrusted with this amazing project - in fact, I still can't quite believe that this is really happening. I hope to create a puzzle that will confound and frustrate the incomparable Hercule Poirot for at least a good few chapters."

Hannah's novel comes more than 90 years after Christie introduced Poirot in her first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, published in 1920. Christie died in 1976.

According to her grandson Mathew Prichard, it was "pure serendipity" that led to Hannah being commissioned.

"Her agent happened to approach HarperCollins in exactly the same week that my colleagues and I had started discussing a new Christie book," he said.

Agatha Christie

Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot in the film Death on the Nile
Agatha Christie
  • Agatha Christie was born in 1890 in in Torquay, Devon, and died in 1976
  • She wrote 80 crime novels and short story collections, two autobiographies and eight novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott
  • She has sold more than two billion books worldwide
  • Hercule Poirot was introduced in Christie's first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, written towards the end of the WWI, and published in 1920
  • In the 1940s she wrote Curtain - Poirot's last adventure - but the novel was not published until 1975
  • The Mousetrap, Christie's most successful play, opened in 1952 and is the longest-running play in history

Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday, Prichard said of Hannah: "It was her enthusiasm and respect for my grandmother as an author that convinced us that this was the person to take on the daunting task."

He said that the idea of a new Poirot book was driven, in part, by the desire to draw attention to his grandmother's vast body of work, especially to a younger audience.

"However popular Agatha Christie still is, space in bookshops has become limited and we've all felt over the last few years that to have a new book was a possibility that we could no longer afford to overlook."

Prichard felt that there was still "an enormous appetite" for Poirot based on book sales and the success of the TV series starring David Suchet.

"I know that David Suchet's mailbag groans with fan letters. This book should intrigue Agatha Christie's many fans and show that this author and character is still very much alive in the 21st Century."

Poirot is one of many famous fictional characters to be resurrected after the death of their creator.

"It's a trend, but not a recent one," said Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller.

Start Quote

"It's a smart way for the estate to give that brand a boost and a bit of reinvention.”

End Quote Philip Jones The Bookseller

James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Peter Pan, Dracula, and characters from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy have all been given new life by contemporary writers in the past few years.

"What it does is revitalise a brand that may be slightly diminished by its longevity or a TV series coming to an end," Jones said.

"It's a smart way for the estate to give that brand a boost and a bit of reinvention. If you get the right publisher and the right author it can work really well."

Before Poirot appears next year, bookshops will be greeting some other well-known literary creations. A new Jeeves and Wooster novel by Sebastian Faulks is out in November.

And Bond is back at the end of this month in William Boyd's Solo.

Boyd is the third author to be invited by the Ian Fleming estate to write an official Bond novel.

He follows in the footsteps of the American thriller writer Jeffery Deaver, who wrote Carte Blanche in 2011; and Faulks, whose Devil May Care was released in 2008.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    I can't imagine I will buy the book. I think Agatha's work should stand alone. Although I love her characters I am happy to re read or watch again. This just smacks of cashing in. I can't believe she would approve.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    I heard this author on the today program this morning telling everyone pompously how much everyone liked her story outline so far.

    As Agatha herself said "But surely for everything you have to love you have to pay some price"

    And this is the price. Exploitation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    My daughter and I are great fans of Hercule Poirot and enjoy the ITV adaptations very much. This is great news as something we enjoy together was coming to an end. I hope David Suchet will find the book enjoyable, and along with ITV, be happy to continue this franchise. BBC, please, your choice of photograph for Hercule was poor; there is no question that photo should of been of David Suchet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    As a Christie fan & collector, I will definitely buy the book but I feel I will be disappointed, it just won't be Agatha. I hope I am proved wrong.
    I reread her books fairly often with the exception of Passenger to Frankfurt which IMO is awful.


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