Publisher: Simon and Schuster and Simon and Schuster UK
Publication date: 18 May 2017
Page count: 416 pages
US Publisher Synopsis
‘You, Mrs Christie, are going to commit a murder. But before then, you are going to disappear.’
December 1926: world-famous author Agatha Christie suddenly goes missing, only to be discovered in a Harrogate hotel ten days later. But what happened during her dramatic disappearance?
Gone Girl meets The Murder of Roger Ackroyd in this brilliant new novel from Andrew Wilson. In a mystery worthy of Agatha herself, facts from the news that gripped the nation are seamlessly interwoven with a gripping, utterly believable story of betrayal, blackmail and murder.
UK Publisher Synopsis
‘I wouldn’t scream if I were you. Unless you want the whole world to learn about your husband and his mistress.’
Agatha Christie, in London to visit her literary agent, boards a train, preoccupied and flustered in the knowledge that her husband Archie is having an affair. She feels a light touch on her back, causing her to lose her balance, then a sense of someone pulling her to safety from the rush of the incoming train. So begins a terrifying sequence of events. Her rescuer is no guardian angel; rather, he is a blackmailer of the most insidious, manipulative kind. Agatha must use every ounce of her cleverness and resourcefulness to thwart an adversary determined to exploit her genius for murder to kill on his behalf.
By the winter of 1926, Agatha Christie was a household name as a crime writer. Her disappearance was well publicised and yet, the events of those ten days have never been fully explained except to say that Mrs Christie suffered a temporary mental breakdown and amnesia. Andrew Wilson has utilised both in-depth historical research and his imagination to create an intricate and ingenious storyline to explain this mysterious disappearance in December 1926. While this is an homage to Mrs Christie, Wilson has not simply tried to replicate her writing style and it is a little more graphic than a Christie work, as befits a 21st century writer.
The book is written from four points of view which allows us to see not only Mrs Christie’s experience but also to view the police investigation with Superintendent William Kenward and portrays the point of view of the public and the level of concern her disappearance engendered. Mrs Christie’s is the predominant and in my opinion the most successful, voice.
The use of the preface to set up a feeling of suspense and dread from the first page was masterful. It had me seriously contemplating whether our beloved Mrs Christie could indeed, not just plot, but commit a murder if leveraged sufficiently. This was a time of personal emotional turmoil for Agatha Christie and the whole book was very emotive.
The microscopic detail of the historically accurate facts included is not fully apparent until they are spelt out at the back of the book and the story just becomes even more credible. I would never have imagined that Agatha dancing to ‘Oh! We have no bananas!’ was historical fact, but Andrew Wilson has unearthed witness testimony to this effect.
I am not sure my review does it justice as I have tried hard not to give too much away, but this an extraordinary novel due to both the subject matter and the way it has been handled and written by Andrew Wilson. I highly recommend it.