Sophie Hannah was chosen to continue the legacy of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot in two novels following the grand Dame’s style, and when you finish Keep Her Safe, you will understand why. Murder, kidnapping, a distraught pregnant British mum, an arrogant American former prosecutor/talk show host, and a few policemen – set in a posh Arizona spa – come together to offer an entertaining mystery, Agatha Christie style.
Several plot lines intersect to keep the reader off balance but the main focus targets the murder of a young girl whose body has never been found. The girl is spotted at the luxury spa after a flustered hotel clerk hands out the wrong room key to a jet-lagged British customer who not only becomes the instigator for the search of the girl but also becomes a victim. As the story goes in and out of the possibilities, Hannah has the characters dancing in a complicated and sometimes confusing maze. I lost patience with long pages of letters, interview transcripts, and descriptions of towels and pools at the luxury spa worthy of a marketing ad. When the action finally picks up, the flashbacks, journals and court documents come together in a clever reveal of the true villain.
Just as Agatha Christie neatly summed up the action, laying bare the motivations of all the characters in her last chapter, so does Hannah. Just in case the reader lost the thread of who did what to whom, she clearly explains it all in the end, exposing the villains and restoring faith in the system. Except – there is an added surprise – leaving the ending with an uncomfortable and shocking revelation.
Although mystery books are not the best focus for a book club discussion, Sophie Hannah’s twists and surprise ending in Keep Her Safe might make the exception. The ending would be worth discussing. If you’ve read it, let me know how you feel about the ending.
Review of The Monogram Murders