A Talent for Murder
In December 1926, Agatha Christie went missing for ten days. The police organised searches for her, and press speculation reached frenzied heights. She was discovered at a hotel in Harrogate and returned home, apparently suffering from some kind of amnesia and nervous breakdown caused by her husband Archie’s infidelity with Nancy Neele. Andrew Wilson takes the known facts of Christie’s real disappearance and weaves a fictional tale of murder and mayhem around them.
There are some nice period details, especially in the descriptions of clothing. One of the most memorable scenes occurs when Agatha is forced to dance an hysterical Charleston in the hotel. The fledgling investigative journalist, Una Crowe, with her penchant for ingenious lies, which get her the information nobody else can find, is an engaging and well-drawn character. The stubborn, unhealthy police superintendent Kenward is certain that Christie is dead and that her husband has killed her. The premise of the villainous plot surrounding the missing crime novelist is never quite convincing, and the pace of the story is occasionally lacklustre. The villain, his wife, and Agatha herself do not quite step out of the pages to convince us in this intriguing and well-researched story.