cover image Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life

Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life

Laura Thompson. Pegasus, $35 (544p) ISBN 978-1-68177-653-8

Though Christie once declared, “I think people should be interested in books and not their authors,” she might have changed her mind after reading this sympathetic and insightful biography. Thompson (The Six) skillfully creates a portrait of the detective-novel doyenne as an imaginative, intelligent woman who loved life but yearned for the security she experienced during her childhood. The creator of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple grew up in a book-filled house in genteel Torquay, a coastal English town, in thrall to her perceptive, loving mother. Thompson makes the convincing argument that much of Christie’s story hinges on her mysterious 11-day disappearance in 1926, when, already famous, she left home in reaction to her first husband’s adulterous affair. Although she left letters behind indicating where she’d be staying—a hotel in Bath—her abandoned car and abrupt departure led to a massive police hunt and resulting media circus. Thompson locates the scandal’s lasting effects in Christie’s lingering sense of insecurity and aversion to publicity. In her later years, some of her happiest times would be spent on her second husband’s Middle Eastern archeological digs, where she could escape being the center of attention. Thompson makes cogent arguments for the craft and depth of Christie’s writing that will surely lead new readers to her books—exactly where she would have wanted the focus.[em] (Mar.) [/em]