Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life

Pegasus. Mar. 2018. 544p. notes. index. ISBN 9781681776538. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781681777115. LIT
OrangeReviewStarIn 1920, a young Englishwoman published a successful detective novel—The Mysterious Affair at Styles—introducing the sleuth destined to become world famous: Hercule Poirot. Agatha Christie continued to write until her death in 1976, creating books and a style that are considered classics of the mystery genre. There are few who wouldn't recognize Christie, the author, and her books continue to be best sellers throughout the world. Yet Christie herself remains elusive. Meticulously researched and painstakingly crafted, this even-handed new biography by Thompson (The Six) sheds respectful insight into her subject while carefully untangling previous speculation and gossip. Thompson thoroughly considers all aspects of Christie's life: her relationship with her beloved mother, Clara, who was "the love of her life," her lengthy disappearance in 1926, her divorce from Archie Christie, and remarriage to archaeologist Max Mallowan. Thompson is particularly strong when describing Christie's disappearance and how it affected her life: Christie is revealed as an imaginative, hardworking woman who loved life but who also shunned publicity.
VERDICT A tour-de-force, this thorough and eminently readable book will delight current Christie fans while also engaging new ones. Ideal for all collections.
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