The Christie Affair
Posted by Nina De Gramont on 18th January 2022
The Silent Pool
On the morning of December 3rd, 1926, Agatha Christie’s husband told her he wanted a divorce. As if this news weren’t painful enough, his reason was another knife to the heart: he planned to marry his mistress. That night the author’s car was found abandoned by Water Lane in Surrey, less than half a kilometer away from a spring-fed lake tailor-named for a mystery story: the Silent Pool. Some of Christie’s belongings – her fur coat, her suitcase – had been left in the backseat, but Christie herself was nowhere to be found. A nationwide search was launched involving hounds, airplanes, and thousands of police officers.
The benefit of writing a book based on actual events is that truth and geography offer up pieces of intrigue to rival any imagination. How lucky for me to be able to describe the Silent Pool and employ its gorgeously eerie name in The Christie Affair, my novel inspired by Agatha Christie’s eleven-day disappearance. Indeed, this body of water was equally fascinating to authorities at the time, and the Silent Pool found itself at the center of theories and explanations. Perhaps, police conjectured, Agatha Christie had sustained a head injury when her car halted so precipitously. In a dazed state, she might have struggled into the cold night, become disoriented as she tried to find her way through the brambles and darkness, and stumbled into the Silent Pool. Or – in her despair – she might have made her way to the Silent Pool intentionally, to hurl herself into its frigid winter water. Most sinister of all, her husband Archie – determined to forge a life with his mistress – might have disposed of her body there after doing the worst.
In the midst of the maelstrom surrounding Christie’s disappearance, the mystery writer Dorothy Sayers paid a visit to the Silent Pool, and either through clairvoyance or a lucky guess pronounced it empty of Agatha Christie. But still the lake remained a suspect.
Agatha Christie was discovered safe and sound in Yorkshire on December 14th. She was not submerged in icy water, but hot healing baths at the Harrogate Hotel. The Silent Pool turned out to be an innocent if poetic bystander. Still the lake remains connected to the author, as lucky for those who write about her disappearance now as it was for the journalists in 1926. Myth shimmers around the Silent Pool, its name and natural glory making it the perfect companion to Christie’s enduring mystery, proving that truth is not only stranger than fiction, but more beautiful.
To find out more about Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance, visit the Pan Macmillan website here.