Agatha Christie, in London to visit her literary agent, boards a train, preoccupied and flustered in the knowledge that her husband Archie is having an affair. She feels a light touch on her back, causing her to lose her balance, then a sense of someone pulling her to safety from the rush of the incoming train.
So begins a terrifying sequence of events. Her rescuer is no guardian angel; rather, he is a blackmailer of the most insidious, manipulative kind. Agatha must use every ounce of her cleverness and resourcefulness to thwart an adversary determined to exploit her genius for murder to kill on his behalf.
“You, Mrs Christie, are going to commit a murder. But, before then, you are going to disappear.”
For ten days in 1926 Agatha Christie vanished. She never revealed where she went or why and Andrew Wilson has taken that real life mystery and created a fantastic piece of crime fiction. As soon as I saw that this novel was about my favourite author I knew I had to read it!
Agatha’s married life is in turmoil, her husband is having an affair and as a mother to Rosalind, she would do anything to protect her. That fact is used against her by Doctor Patrick Kurs, a man with a sinister and shocking plan – to blackmail Agatha into murdering his wife.
“I am going to have to kill her. Or rather not me, Mrs Christie, for you are going to kill her.”
Kurs has to be, hands down the most evil character I have ever come across in a novel (apart from Dolores Umbridge of Harry Potter that is!) He uses every single dark secret in Agatha’s life and her love for her daughter to commit murder by proxy. He is sly, cunning and cruel. He finds himself ‘inspired’ by ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’ and sees himself as the embodiment of the doctor from the book. He is truly hateful. Oh how I love a good baddie!
“For too long you have been able to control your characters, killing them off on nothing more than a whim. Now it’s my turn. And now you are my character.”
The book is narrated from Agatha’s point of view and Andrew Wilson has managed to capture her voice and persona wonderfully. And the fact that this story could be real, is just deliciously fantastic.
This wouldn’t be a true Agatha tale without a couple of amateur sleuths – enter Una and Davison. They happen to bump into Agatha just before her disappearance and when they hear the news they want to find the truth, particularly Una. This pair did remind me a little of Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence, which I found endearing and entertaining
“’Listen to me, prattling on like a schoolgirl. We’ve got a case to crack’”
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was reminiscent of a book by the lady herself. The facts at the end of the book were fascinating. It was interesting to see how Andrew Wilson had incorporated what little is known about Agatha Christie’s disappearance into his tale.
It’s a superb mystery with great characters, murder and poison. I think any Agatha Christie fan will enjoy it and I can’t help but wonder what the lady herself would have thought.
BOOKISH CORNER RATING – 5/5 STARS
Andrew Wilson is the highly acclaimed author of biographies of Patricia Highsmith, Sylvia Plath and Alexander McQueen. His first novel, The Lying Tongue, was published in 2007. His journalism has appeared in the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, the Observer, the Sunday Times, the Daily Mail and the Washington Post.
‘A Talent for Murder’ is out now in hardback published by Simon and Schuster. With thanks to the team @SimonSays_WST for my copy.
If you read and enjoy ‘A Talent For Murder’ then you should try these too:
‘The Crime Writer’ by Jill Dawson
‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’ by Agatha Christie
‘Agatha Christie: An English Mystery’ by Laura Thompson