LAST week, I took a few days of holiday, and it might not surprise you to learn that I spent part of that time getting stuck into a book. I was fortunate to have a series of extremely good crime titles saved up on my TBR pile: I devoured Death in the East, the fourth excellent instalment in Abir Mukherjee’s Sam Wyndham series and an advance copy of Stuart Turton’s inventive, immersive The Devil and The Dark Water.

I also hugely enjoyed I Saw Him Die, the latest novel by Andrew Wilson. Andrew is an award-winning journalist and biographer, who in recent years has turned his deft hand to fiction, with a series of thrillers where the protagonist is perhaps the most famous crime writer of them all: Agatha Christie.

Andrew skilfully weaves together episodes from Christie’s life with fictional murder stories for her to solve. The first novel in the series, A Talent For Murder, took place around Agatha Christie’s disappearance in 1926. I Saw Him Die takes a visit Christie took to Skye in 1930 as its starting point. In Wilson’s book, Christie is there to help protect a retired British secret agent. But when he is murdered, and then another hotel guest killed, Christie realises the deaths are following the nursery rhyme ‘Who Killed Cock Robin’ – a nod to Christie’s novels named after children’s rhymes.

Salisbury Journal:

Andrew’s books are part of an intriguing thread of novels where classic crime writers take centre stage: Nicola Upson has written another wonderful series of books around the life of author Josephine Tey, while Jill Dawson’s The Crime Writer took Patricia Highsmith as its subject matter. I managed to catch up with Andrew last week, and asked how it felt writing as Agatha Christie.

“I’m steeped in her writing,” he explained. “It is a bit of an imaginative leap to write in the first person, as Agatha, but real fans tell me I’ve pulled it off. Some have even said it’s like reading an Agatha novel.” He talked about how he uses his ‘biographical training’ in the writing. After having found the biographical framework I have to come up with a lively and interesting plot. The key is to keep the reader turning the pages.”

I was curious as to why Agatha Christie and the Golden Age of Crime still resonates today. “I think it’s something to do with the fact that many of these books end with closure,” Andrew said. “The chaos and disorder that comes with murder and crime has been replaced by the restoration of order.

“There’s something very satisfying about that – it’s almost written into our DNA. It’s no surprise that sales of Agatha have risen during lockdown.”