The good news: there will be a new mystery novel featuring the classic detective character Hercule Poirot. The bad news: it is not from a newly-discovered manuscript written by Dame Agatha Christie, alas. Her grandson, who has charge of the estate, has chosen to try to ‘update’ things:

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”.

In case you might wonder what ‘reinventing’ means:

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.”

Hmmm … are we going to have a hip, young Poirot? That would seem difficult to do in the late 1920s, which is the timeframe in which they are planning to place the stories, according to the article. Poirot’s first appearance in The Mysterious Affair at Styles makes plain that he was a refugee from Belgium who had already been retired from the police there at the time of WW1.

I fear though that we might have a ‘modern’ Poirot, concerned about the environment and expressing sympathy for gay rights, or taking on similar views inconsistent with a middle-class, rather traditionalist, person of the interwar era.

However worthy one might consider such ideals, they would be wildly out of place in a Poirot story. And yet such anachronistic sentiments are commonly ascribed by modern writers (of novels, movies, and TV shows) to characters of other eras, in an apparent effort to attract modern readers.

I guess it works, since they keep doing it. But I would find it rather annoying to read a book set in 1928 and find that it is populated by people from 2013 dressed up in period costume.

Crossposted at The Adventures of Bob.