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BookBrowse Reviews The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict

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The Mystery of Mrs. Christie

by Marie Benedict

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict X
The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict
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  • First Published:
    Dec 2020, 288 pages

    Paperback:
    Oct 2021, 336 pages

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A work of historical fiction based on the true story of Agatha Christie's mysterious disappearance and her turbulent first marriage.

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict, notable author of previous historical fiction such as The Other Einstein and Lady Clementine, earned an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars from our First Impressions reviewers.

What the book is about:

This cleverly structured, well-researched, fast-paced, skillfully written fictionalized account focuses on a famous 11-day period in Christie's life, when the already well-known author disappeared without a trace, after a shouting match over a Friday breakfast with her husband, Archie Christie. Benedict's novel covering this disappearance twists like a double helix: Chapters narrated by Agatha covering her life in flashbacks from October, 1912, when she first met Archie, to December 14, 1926, when she reappeared after her 11-day hiatus, intertwine with chapters narrated by Archie, which cover his day-to-day experience from Saturday, December 4, when her car was found by a cliff, to her being discovered over a week later, safe and well at an upscale seaside hotel (Julia E).

Readers enjoyed the dual-timeline approach and how the story alternated between Agatha and Archie.

The two voices alternating in the novel are well done, and held a bit of surprise for me in the second part. My detective skills were not ahead of the author's (Theresa P)! The circumstances, attitudes and emotions which motivate the actions of the characters are well-developed in the chapters dealing with the earlier time frame and the novelist's imagination fills in the gaps in what is known about the real-life events. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and I think the dual-timeline approach works well for the most part (Rebecca H).

Many pointed out that Benedict adopts a style similar to that of Christie's own novels, making the story a treat for dedicated fans of the author.

Blending events from Agatha's life with a writing style familiar to fans of Christie's novels, Marie Benedict pays homage to Christie's detective fiction (Shawna). The mystery of Agatha Christie's 11-day disappearance in December, 1926 has persisted to this day. Marie Benedict presents a wonderfully engaging and thrilling answer to that mystery with twists and turns worthy of any Christie whodunit (Barbara E).

Some found the book slow-paced and occasionally challenging, but this didn't discourage them from recommending it.

The formal English dialogue of the time period unfortunately dragged my interest away and I found myself skimming along to find the plot points more quickly than my reading eyes allowed. My attention just did not stay focused enough on the carefully designed narrative. I honestly believe if I had found this book at a different time in my personal schedule, my opinion would have improved as I have thoroughly enjoyed other selections by this talented novelist, so I'll still recommend this creative telling to readers, especially if they are Agatha Christie fans (Juli B). I enjoyed this book. I found it to be a bit of a slow burn but I think I liked it because it was (Marybeth T).

Reviewers commented that The Mystery of Mrs. Christie will interest fans of historical fiction, Christie aficionados and mystery lovers in general.

This is a must-read for fans of British mysteries, and a sound choice for those who enjoy sharply written, soundly researched historical fiction (Julia E). If you have read any of Agatha Christie's novels, love historical fiction or love a good mystery, YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK (Celia P). I recommend this to all who enjoy historical fiction (Dianne S).

Perhaps most importantly, readers found Benedict's fictional explanation for Christie's disappearance satisfying.

The how and why of this disappearance are shocking but logical and deeply satisfying. I highly recommend this book (Barbara E)! I was captivated by The Mystery of Mrs. Christie. I was completely unaware of the episode in her life that this story is based on, and loved Marie Benedict's telling of the way it might have been (Theresa P). The ending and explanation of the events was entirely satisfying; indeed, I hope it was true (Joan V).

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in January 2021, and has been updated for the November 2021 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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