Hercule Poirot to return in new novel

Agatha Christie's mustachioed detective Hercule Poirot is to be resurrected in a new novel nearly 40 years after his last adventures, it was announced on Wednesday.

British crime writer Sophie Hannah has been commissioned to write the as yet untitled book, the first continuation novel in Christie's celebrated series about the Belgian sleuth. The project has the support of the Christie family.

The book is due to be published next September, 94 years after Poirot first appeared in Christie's debut novel "The Mysterious Affair at Styles", publisher HarperCollins announced in a joint statement with Acorn Productions, which manages Christie's rights.

Hannah said it was Christie, who died in 1974, who had made her "fall in love with mystery fiction" at the age of 13.

"It is almost impossible to put into words how honoured I am to have been entrusted with this amazing project," she said.

"It was Christie's brilliant plotting and deep understanding of the human psyche that shaped my identity as a crime writer."

She added that she hopes to "create a puzzle that will confound and frustrate the incomparable Hercule Poirot for at least a good few chapters".

Hannah is the author of eight psychological thrillers as well as eight volumes of poetry. Two of her novels have been adapted for television.

Along with Miss Marple, the diminutive Poirot is one of Christie's best-loved characters.

Christie's grandson Mathew Prichard said it was "pure serendipity" that Hannah was commissioned to write the book, as her agent approached the publisher with the idea in the same week that the family began discussing a new Christie novel.

"Her idea for a plotline was so compelling and her passion for my grandmother's work so strong, that we felt that the time was right for a new Christie to be written," he said.

Christie has sold more than two billion books which have been adapted countless times for the stage and screen. Her play "The Mousetrap" is the longest-running show in history, having had more than 25,000 performances since it opened in London 61 years ago.

Poirot is not the first famous character to be revived after their creator's death.

Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver and William Boyd have all penned continuation novels for Ian Fleming's James Bond series, while Faulks is due to publish a new book about PG Woodhouse's Jeeves and Wooster in November.