A fascinating contemporary journey which reveals the secret life of the world's most widely read author.
Andrew Eames is an adventurous, insightful and sympathetic observer who sets out to travel from London to Baghdad by train, following the route of the old Orient Express. Interwoven through his own experience, with the colourful cast of characters he encounters en route, is an identical journey made by Agatha Christie in 1928, a journey which was to change her life completely and led to her spending 30 seasons on archaeological digs in the deserts of Syria and Iraq. As Eames' own journey progresses he begins to reveal details of that exotic second existence of the world's most widely read author.
The modern journey from London to Baghdad by train is actually far harder to do today than it was in Agatha's day. Many of the countries Eames passes through, from the Balkans and into the Middle East, have had a particularly bad press in recent years, and yet the people the author meets are invariably delightful. Eventually he arrives at the Iraqi border at the same time as the UN weapons inspectors, and thus was one of the last tourists to experience the reality of Saddam Hussein's regime. As the book approaches its final destination of Ur, one of the first cities mentioned in Genesis and the place where Agatha first met her future husband, archaeologist Max Mallowan, it becomes increasingly filled with a sense of doom and oppression as the shadow of war looms.
A compelling read which merges literary biography with an intensely personal travel adventure, and ancient history with contemporary events. A revelation both about Agatha Christie's life and about the true character of nations which have been demonized by the world press in recent years.