Name: A Talent for Murder
Author: Andrew Wilson
Number of Pages: 416 (Paperback)
Published: March 22nd 2018 by Simon & Schuster UK
Discover the real-life mystery centered on the queen of crime herself: Agatha Christie. In this tantalizing new novel, Christie’s mysterious ten-day disappearance serves as the starting point for a gripping novel, in which Christie herself is pulled into a case of blackmail and murder.
Agatha Christie, in London to visit her literary agent, is boarding a train, preoccupied with the devastating knowledge that her husband 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—for her rescuer is no guardian angel, rather he is a blackmailer of the most insidious, manipulative kind.
Writing about murder is a far cry from committing a crime, and Agatha must use every ounce of her cleverness and resourcefulness to thwart an adversary determined to exploit her expertise and knowledge about the act of murder to kill on his behalf.
In A Talent for Murder, Andrew Wilson ingeniously explores Agatha Christie’s odd ten-day disappearance in 1926 and weaves an utterly compelling and convincing story around this still unsolved mystery involving the world’s bestselling novelist. – from Goodreads
Anyone who has visited my blog over recent months may have noticed I’ve become a bit of an Agatha Christie fan. I’m still fairly new to her world, having read around 5 or so of over 60 books, but I had read somewhere online about her real life disappearance.
In 1926 Christie disappeared from circulation without trace. After police involvement and widespread speculation several days later she was found; she had been staying at a hotel in Harrogate. No explanation or discussion revealed what had happened during that time, and so the mystery endures, and that’s the starting point for this fictional tale, A Talent for Murder.
Turning a real person into a fictional version and having her star in this tale, giving her voice, is quite intriguing, although at first I wasn‘t sure what to expect.
Wilson has created a character who is intelligent, brave, resourceful, and has her family at the heart of any decision she makes. For her family are the ones at risk when the villain of the piece, Dr Patrick Kurs, approaches Agatha and tells her she is going to commit a murder at his behest. The price if she refuses? He knows things, about her family, things that may prove damaging should they be publicly revealed.
He also knows she has a young daughter. It is perhaps this that ensures he has the attention of the famous novelist with a mind for a good murder plot. But writing fiction, going to dark places in an otherwise safe world is completely different from being faced with such things in reality, and watching Agatha come to terms with her adversary is enjoyable. Will she be forced to go through with the man’s request? Will the imagination that provides so many great and unexpected twists in the tale manage to find a way out before someone dies?
Kurs is a great villain because he’s an awful character. The way he so clinically and calculatingly talks of murder, as though it were such a small thing, and some of the things that happen later on in the story reassert that he is not a nice man at all, and I read on hoping that justice would prevail as far as he was concerned.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is referenced a few times, and I kept reading tentatively, hoping that nothing from that tale would be given away, as I haven’t read it yet and definitely plan to, but never fear, you can read A Talent for Murder without any risk of spoilers for Christie’s original novels.
The story unfolds for the majority from Agatha’s point of view, but there are also chapters from that of Kenward, the officer leading the search into her disappearance, who will not give up and refuses to be deterred despite the amounting expense and time involved in his searches, which are not yielding any concrete results.
Una Crow is an aspiring journalist who becomes intrigued by the disappearance of Mrs Christie, and makes it her work to find out as much as she possibly can to help find the missing novelist and write her own story regarding her disappearance.
A Talent for Murder is fact and fiction blended into an intriguing mystery tale, pitting the wits of a lady writer against a thoroughly nasty villain. It’s the first book in a series, and at the back of the edition I read two further books are detailed. A Different Kind of Evil is already available, I believe, and the following book sounds intriguing as well. I think I’ll be picking up both of them in the future.