In her latest novel, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, Marie Benedict takes the real-life, unsolved mystery of Agatha Christie’s eleven-day disappearance and imagines what actually happened during that time. We have no way of knowing how accurate Ms. Benedict’s solution actually is to the truth, but it certainly is an intriguing hypothesis to an unusual mystery.
I went into The Mystery of Mrs. Christie not knowing much about Dame Christie other than the fact that she disappeared and no one knows why or where she was for those eleven days. What Ms. Benedict presents is certainly plausible, especially given the care with which she builds her case. The question of whether it is historically accurate is anyone’s guess.
Still, Ms. Benedict builds a fascinating picture of Dame Christie as she was in her youth, young and hopeful and a bit naive. We see her fall in love with her first husband and watch that marriage evolve into something much different than what she wanted and expected. Also, we notice Dame Christie’s burgeoning strength of character and emerging brilliance as a mystery writer.
At the same time, we see Dame Christie’s disappearance through the eyes of her first husband, Archie Christie. We recognize that there is something significantly wrong with his reactions regarding her disappearance and that all is not as it seems. Again, we have no idea whether Ms. Benedict’s portrayal is historically accurate, but it certainly makes for interesting reading.
There is an innate frustration when authors try to solve unsolved mysteries because of the simple fact that they are unsolved and therefore completely hypothetical. Yet, Ms. Benedict does a decent job of building The Mystery of Mrs. Christiearound the facts, bare as they are, to create a story that is entertaining and plausible. When it comes to such stories, that is the best for which we can hope.