cover image The Mystery of Mrs. Christie

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie

Marie Benedict. Sourcebooks, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4926-8272-1

Benedict (Lady Clementine) delivers an uneven novel of what might have happened to Agatha Christie during the 11 days in 1926 when she famously went missing. Chapters alternate between a memoir manuscript purportedly written by Christie, and the story of Christie’s husband, Archie, who becomes a suspect in her disappearance. No one knows what really happened, and the clever premise here is that Christie vanished deliberately so as to ensnare Archie in a trap as payback for his infidelities. The saccharine manuscript, beginning in 1912 with the line, “I could not have written a more perfect man,” chronicles Agatha and Archie’s courtship and early years of marriage, and her efforts to please him. More satisfying are the chapters in which a heinous Archie emerges and is forced to follow Agatha’s instructions in a letter in order to escape prosecution (“How do you want this story to end? It seems to me that there are two paths from which you can choose, the first involving a softer landing than the second, though neither are without bumps and bruises, of course”). As the investigators begin to suspect foul play, thanks to phony clues left by Agatha, Archie is forced to admit compromising truths. While the manuscript chapters won’t ring true with Christie fans, the story makes for good fun. (Jan.)