In December 1926, novelist Agatha Christie and her husband Archie have a vicious argument about his unfaithfulness. On that frigid night, she vanishes. Investigators find her abandoned car on the edge of a deep pond, her fur coat still inside. Her daughter and unfaithful husband have no idea where she is. English officials unleash an unprecedented manhunt to find her and are joined by people all over the country. She reappears eleven days later, claiming amnesia. Marie Benedict wrote the book in a dual narrative: one story line is from Archie’s point-of-view as he contends with the media circus, the other from Agatha’s as she describes their relationship in her unpublished memoir.
This is the second historical novel I’ve read in the last year about Agatha’s Christie’s mysterious disappearance. I enjoyed the first, The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont, much more The Christie Affair – Book Review. Each book reimagines the course of events much differently, but Gramont’s novel is more dramatic, more creative. In The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, Benedict minimizes Agatha’s early career; the reason her disappearance was such a big deal. Unfortunately, I felt no emotional connection to Agatha and was annoyed by her simpering. Was she so pitiable in real life?
“I resolved to wait for him to return. This waiting was different from all the waiting I’d undertaken before. Somehow, waiting for him for leaves during his military training, waiting for him to come home from the Great War, even waiting for him to appear on our London doorstep from Spain after Mummy died did not compare to waiting for him to return my love.”
There was too much focus on Archie and not enough on Agatha, although it was fun to learn more about him. He certainly wasn’t painted with a very flattering brush. All in all, I like Benjamin’s writing style, which is casual and readable without an overabundance of flowery language, but this book was just okay for me. 3 stars.