The Christie Affair
reviewed by Sandra Hoover
One of the most talked about mysteries of the twentieth century is the eleven day disappearance of famed mystery writer Agatha Christie. On December 3, 1926, after being told by her husband that he was leaving her for another woman, Agatha Christie left their home and simply disappeared for eleven mysterious days.
A massive manhunt ensued. Her car was discovered abandoned with her clothing and driver’s license inside. There are multiple theories on the why and how – revenge, publicity, amnesia, grief? Finally, on December 14, 1926, Christie was discovered at a hotel staying under the name Mrs. Tressa Neele, but she claimed not to remember anything. What happened during those eleven days? The answer remains a mystery to this day.
The Christie Affair is the fictional retelling of a spasmodic time in Agatha Christie’s life and is narrated mostly by Archie Christie’s mistress, Nancy Neele known as Nan O’Dea is this book. As it turns out, Nan’s story is quite intriguing. Readers learn of her own troubled life from a young age and are privy to her motivation for insinuating her way into Archie’s life even at the cost of his marriage. Nan appears convinced she knows the true story of what happened to Agatha and in fact, tells the story as though she has insider information, but remember it’s all conjecture. As it turns out, this book’s more about Nan, her thoughts and need for the spotlight than about what happened to Agatha. It’s an interesting premise for narrating a story, but it relegates Agatha to a support role vs. Nan who becomes the fictional star of the show.
Readers looking to learn the answer to the big real-life mystery of Agatha Christie’s disappearance will be disappointed in this book. However, The Christie Affair is entertaining and quite twisted with a mysterious murder, a touch of romance and a complex quest very similar to a real-life Agatha Christie mystery story. The pacing is nigh on perfect and the ending, although readers may see it coming, is quite stunning. The characters are well fleshed out, believable and dare I say even likable? The author accomplishes quite a feat in making O’Dea come across as somewhat likable given she admittedly set out to destroy a marriage for selfish reasons.
The Christie Affair is an intense, emotional fictional story. This reader would have liked to hear more from Agatha Christie herself; however, I believe the author accomplished what she set out to do which was to give readers insight into the mistress and her role in what happened leading up to those fateful eleven days, including the fact that O’Dea had been hatching this plot for years. Readers of historical fiction will enjoy this book especially if they go into it knowing what – or what not – to expect. Recommended to fans of fictional retellings of true stories.
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