Wednesday Review - The Duchess of Death by Richard Hack

Wednesday Aug 18 2010
by Jack

Hack, Richard, Duchess of Death: The Unauthorised Biography of Agatha Christie (London:  J.R. Books, 18.99 pounds, 2010).
Richard Hack is an American writer and talk-show guest, the latter indicating the kind of books he writes, which appeal to those of salacious curiosity.  The books include an exposé of Howard Hughes, an exposé of J. Edgar Hoover, and now, an “Unauthorised” biography  of Agatha Christie.  There are several good reasons for emphasizing that a biography is unauthorized, chiefly to stress that the author has been denied access to the subject’s papers and family.  There are also some bad reasons, including to stress that the author is willing to trawl widely (and deeply) for new material, preferably of stuff that the subject would rather was not revealed and possibly is not even true. This book trawls, and as one might have suspected, does not come up with much that is truly new.   Dame Agatha’s life has been written about a number of times, and there is not much more dirt to be dug up there.  So we get a rehearsal of the famous disappearance of 1926 with no new conclusions, and a lot of time spent doing the math on the disparity in ages between Christie and her second husband (it was fourteen years, claims the author).  The book basically confirms what we already knew: that Agatha was a pretty dull and mostly conventional lady.



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