24 September 2016

Hercule Poirot comes to Clonakilty, Co Cork

Published this month, Sophie Hannah's second Hercule Poirot novel, Closed Casket, has an Irish setting.

Clonakilty, County Cork, 1929. Best-selling children's author Lady Athelinda Playford springs a surprise on the lawyer entrusted with her will. As guests arrive for a party at her Irish mansion, she has decided to cut off her two children without a penny, and leave her vast fortune to an invalid with only weeks to live.

Among Lady Playford’s visitors are Poirot and Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard. Neither knows why he has been invited, until Poirot begins to wonder if Lady Playford expects a murder.

Besides poetry and books for children and the "reboot" Poirots, Sophie Hannah writes crime fiction including the "Waterhouse and Zailer" series. It was adapted for TV as Case Sensitive, starring Olivia Williams and Darren Boyd.

Her first Poirot novel, The Monogram Murders, was a bestseller in more than 15 countries. She came upon the Irish setting of her new novel by chance, she told the Irish Independent.

“I love Ireland. I also love looking online at houses for sale all over the world. When I was searching online a few years ago, I found a house in or near Clonakilty. It’s on the banks of the river and is a big country house with ten or 12 bedrooms and over 100 acres. Also, I liked the name ‘Clonakilty’ so I decided to set the novel there.”

This is not the legendary Belgian detective's first visit to Ireland either. Agatha Christie sent him to a hotel on the west coast in the short story "The Apples of the Hesperides". which appears in her 1947 short story collection of Poirot cases, The Labours of Hercules.