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by Jared Cade

Pub Date: June 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-7206-1055-9

A sympathetic biography of the celebrated mystery writer that focuses on her strange disappearance in 1926. Londoner Cade, who researched a BBC documentary about Christie’s disappearance, pored through archives and interviewed scores of friends, relatives, police officials, and others connected to the event. On December 4, 1926, Christie vanished from her home only to be found 11 days later living in a posh hotel under a false name. The implausible story she and her husband gave out at the time was that she was suffering from amnesia. Cade’s simple, quite convincing explanation is that, having been informed by her husband that their marriage was over, Christie staged the disappearance to punish him. By creating clues that suggested murder, she hoped the police would pick him up for questioning, thus embarrassing him and ruining his weekend with his mistress. Cade reveals how her closest friend helped her concoct her plan and carry it out. What she had not anticipated was the length of time required to locate her, the sensational press coverage that ensued, and the intense public interest and speculation that were aroused. She embarrassed not just her husband but herself and was deeply chagrined at being suspected of arranging a publicity stunt to help her book sales. Cade recounts particulars of the search, Christie’s anguish over the divorce that followed, and her subsequent marriage to another, also unfaithful husband. In tiresome detail he relates the plots, characters, and feelings expressed in her literary creations’some unremarkable romances under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott as well as the scores of mysteries for which she is best known—to painful episodes in her real life. First published in England in 1998, this uncritical biography provide a glimpse into the anguish of a writer who tried hard to keep her unhappy private life from public view. Ardent fans may be enthralled; she would be appalled. (31 b&w photos)