cover image Death in a Desert Land

Death in a Desert Land

Andrew Wilson. Washington Square, $17 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-5011-9745-1

In 1928, John Davison, a British intelligence operative, persuades Agatha Christie to look into a suspicious death, in Wilson’s ingenious third whodunit featuring the mystery writer (after 2018’s A Different Kind of Evil). In 1926, Gertrude Bell, a “famous adventurer and Arabist,” died of barbiturate poisoning in Baghdad, an apparent suicide. Davison tells Christie that one of Bell’s former servants recently came across letters that she wrote to her father, but never sent. In them, Bell expresses fear for her life and states that if she died from something other than a terminal illness, her murderer should be sought at Ur, a major archaeological site she visited. Christie arrives at Ur to find a poisonous atmosphere centering on Katherine Woolley, whose husband is in charge of the dig. Woolley, whose sanity is in doubt, was at odds with Bell during their time together. The bludgeoning death of someone connected to the excavations puts Christie on the sleuthing trail. Wilson cleverly riffs on one of Christie’s own novels en route to a crafty and satisfying solution. Wilson strikes gold again. [em]Agent: Clare Alexander, Aitken Alexander Assoc. (July) [/em]