I'm an incurable reader of mystery novels, but somehow I've never been able to work up much enthusiasm for the works of Agatha Christie. I like books with some juice in them - with flesh and blood people involved in the crimes. Miss Christie seems to have favored stilted, anemic caricatures from what could be called Great Britain According to Punch.
I know I'm intended to curl up on a cold evening, of which there has been no shortage, and savor Miss Christie's languid logical puzzles while the chestnuts roast by the fire and the old hound dreams of rabbits, etc., but the fact is I grow maddened by her refusal to tell me what her characters are really thinking and feeling.
It is, therefore, no doubt ironic that the movie "Agatha," a speculation based on what was - so far as I know - the only public display of eccentricity and passion in Dame Agatha's life, fails for the same reason her books do: Because it hasn't the juice and the life and the passion. It tells of 11 mystery days in 1926 when the novelist, distraught because her husband wanted a divorce, disappeared from view and checked into a health spa under the name of her husband's mistress.
The official explanation for the episode was "insomnia," and the event is ignored in Christie's autobiography. But how much explanation do we need? Her disappearance, her pseudonym and her behavior are easily accounted for by the crisis she was facing. We might not have acted that way ourselves, but we can understand why someone else would have.