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The Christie Affair


The Christie Affair

There have been dozens of fictional retellings, in addition to movies and television shows, that have attempted to explain what actually happened to Agatha Christie during the 11 days in late 1926 when she simply disappeared.

Into the fray steps author Nina de Gramont, who has created some new characters and additional storylines that all come together to make for a tale worthy of Dame Agatha herself. One of the primary players here is Nan O’Dea, who was infamous for being the mistress of Agatha’s then-husband, Archie Christie.

"THE CHRISTIE AFFAIR has it all: intrigue, a romantic triangle, a murder that doesn’t happen, a murder that does, lies, deceit and all kinds of secrets."

THE CHRISTIE AFFAIR also features flashback chapters that are told from the perspective of a teenage Nan O’Dea. We learn right from the top of the story that a long time ago in another country, she nearly killed a woman. It will be up to you, once you have all the details, to figure out if that was worthy of justification. It also will be left to you to determine how you feel about someone who is openly not hiding the fact that she is with another woman’s husband. I assume this is why Agatha divorced Archie in 1928, not long after her mysterious disappearance.

Ironically, Agatha and Nan will become intertwined not just by sharing Archie but through events that will only come out during that 11-day period, a time about which both swore secrecy to each other forever. At one point prior to Agatha’s disappearance, Nan accompanies her to London for lunch before a meeting at her publisher. Before they part ways, Agatha whispers to Nan: “You don’t love him. It would be bad enough if you did. But since you don’t, please leave him to the person who does.”

The first part of the novel is told from Nan’s perspective. Once Agatha finally pulls her disappearing act, it does not surprise Nan as she recalls having disappeared once herself. With Agatha gone, Nan recognizes that she is a practical, contained Englishwoman. Thanks to the affair, it’s as if Agatha has abandoned all of that and is acting completely out of character. By day three of her disappearance, Monday, December 6, 1926, the story hits the newspapers worldwide. Nan is staying at the Bellefort Hotel and notices Inspector Chilton, who is leading the search for Agatha.

I especially enjoyed this part of the story, where de Gramont adds references to Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, with characters named Marston and Armstrong. Were I not an actor who had starred in a regional production of the play pre-COVID, I might not have caught that sly name-dropping.

The second part of the novel is from Agatha’s point of view, and of particular importance is the mysterious Irish man she meets who has a connection to Nan. Of course, there is always the rumor that the police, possibly in the form of Inspector Chilton, had discovered Agatha at some point but is keeping it hidden from the press and her husband for some unknown reason. I will not spoil de Gramont’s explanation for these various plot twists, but they are quite ingenious.

THE CHRISTIE AFFAIR has it all: intrigue, a romantic triangle, a murder that doesn’t happen, a murder that does, lies, deceit and all kinds of secrets. I recommend it to anyone who still wants to find out what really happened during the greatest unsolved mystery Dame Agatha ever conjured up.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on February 18, 2022

The Christie Affair
by Nina de Gramont

  • Publication Date: February 7, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • ISBN-10: 1250792630
  • ISBN-13: 9781250792631