Hercule Poirot is to test his famous grey cells once again in a “new” Agatha Christie novel – the first featuring the Belgian detective since Christie’s death in 1976.
Christie is the latest author to be resurrected by her estate, following novels in the style of Ian Fleming and PG Wodehouse written by contemporary authors. Bestselling crime writer Sophie Hannah is to write the as-yet untitled novel in Christie’s style, which will be published next year.
She said: “Writing a book with Poirot in it will be like writing about someone I know really well. I’ve read all the books so many times – I wouldn’t want to do this for any other writer. It was Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple who, between them, made me want to devote my working life to crime fiction.” The work, published by HarperCollins, will be the first fully-authorised Poirot novel since the author’s death. Mathew Prichard, Christie’s grandson and chairman of Agatha Christie Limited, the company that manages her estate, said: “The argument that might convince her is that it’s an attempt to reintroduce an already enthusiastic public to the books she wrote. That would have made her sympathetic to what we’re trying to do. When we heard that someone of Sophie’s eminence wanted to be involved in a project like this, we felt the opportunity was too good to miss.”
Christie is the author of 80 crime novels and short story collections. More than a billion copies of her books have been sold in English and another billion in foreign languages, and her publisher claimed she is outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. Literary agent Jonny Geller, joint chief executive of Curtis Brown, said estates were keen to produce new work from their authors “to drive readers to the original work. One way of doing that is reinventing it”.
Mr Geller, who has worked with the Fleming estate on new James Bond books, said: “There is real potential that hasn’t been exploited. You can have young Poirot or modern Poirot.”
There were few clues as to the plot at this stage, although Ms Hannah said she had written a detailed plan of almost 100 pages, “ with every scene, detail and eyebrow twitch”.
The novel will be set in the late 1920s, four years after the year Poirot made his debut in The Mysterious Affair at Styles. The book will be set between The Mystery of the Blue Train and Peril at End House. It will not feature Poirot’s sidekick Captain Hastings, or his ally Inspector Japp.
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