We all know Agatha Christie as a writer of period murder mystery novels that have stood the test of time but how much do you know about the woman behind the novels? Christie saw herself as a modern woman for her time but she was actually well ahead of it, forging an independent life for herself when most British women were trapped in domestic servitude by a society that that saw them as secondary to men.
Agatha starts in a period when Christie stages her own disappearance, an elaborate and mysterious act designed to make life hard for her philandering husband and leave the police looking for a body rather than a living author. Her actual whereabouts remain a mystery but the period is fictionalised in this book, providing a wonderful insight into Christie’s character. Martinetti and Lebeau use what is known about Christie from her autobiographies to build up a portrait of a woman who is just as fascinating as Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, both of whom turn up in the book, hanging around the periphery of Christie’s consciousness and conversing with her when no-one else is around.
Franc uses a ligne claire art style that’s deeply reminiscent of Hergé’s Tintin books, not just because of the look of the characters but also the backgrounds and the exotic foreign destinations that Christie visits and uses as backdrops for her own work. With Tintin operating in a similar period, it provides the art with a grounding in time and space, into which it slots perfectly.
It’s an unusual subject for a graphic novel but it ends up suiting the medium to perfection. It brings Christie to life both as an unassuming but visionary writer of imaginative, popular and timeless fiction, but also as an impressive and fiercely independent woman.