Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Secret Adversary: Agatha Christie

The Secret Adversary is the first book in a brief series by Agatha Christie starring Tommy and Tuppence. The series consists of only five books, and one of those is a short story collection. This book was published in 1922 and was only Christie's second novel. Tommy and Tuppence are two young adventurers, out of work and running out of money in the months following World War I.

I was aware when I began reading this book that a lot of Agatha Christie fans do not consider it one of her better works. Even Robert Barnard had unkind words for the Tommy and Tuppence in his appreciation of Agatha Christie, A Talent to Deceive, calling them "everyone's least favorite Christie sleuths," although he considered this book the best of that series.

I remember reading some of the Tommy and Tuppence series when I was younger, and those books were among my favorites. So I wanted to give this book a try. And I was very happy with the results. Tommy and Tuppence did not disappoint me.

The Secret Adversary is an espionage thriller. The story is not as serious as today's espionage books; the issues are more black and white. I see it more as a lighthearted entertainment. There is a love story, which of course ends happily.

Tommy and Tuppence meet accidentally, discuss their unhappy situations, and decide to join forces to hire themselves out as adventurers. Even before they put out an advertisement, Tuppence is accosted by a man who proposes to hire her. Then he turns out to be part of a nefarious plot to find and expose a draft treaty which could compromise the British government. Soon they are involved with British intelligence and other persons interested in tracking down the young woman who was carrying the treaty.

The plot gets very complicated very quickly. Most of the action and events are either foolhardy or unbelievable, but I found it was fun and kept me entertained. I like Tuppence because she was a strong female character, spoke her mind, and was not afraid to lead the way. I liked Tommy because he was not brilliant but he had common sense.

This is the first book I have officially read for the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge, hosted by  Mysteries In Paradise. If you are interested in joining in, here are instructions on how to do that.


Sarah said...

The Tommy and Tuppence novels are my least favourite books of AC although I did read them all when I was a teenager. I don't think Christie does espionage as well as her conventional murders but glad you enjoyed the book. I can remember the plot very well.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Tracy, I never thought of Tuppence as a "strong female character" in this book but that is exactly how her character is. Likewise, your description of Tommy is spot-on too. Their zeal for adventure, reckless as it would seem, is undiminished by their knowledge that they might have bitten more than they can chew. I still have to read the others in the series.

Unknown said...

I have never even heard of the Tommy and Tuppence books! I will be on the lookout for some of these titles to try. Great review.


Peggy Ann said...

I think the reason I didn't care for Tommy and Tuppence is the espionage setting too. I have only read one long ago. I have the Secret Adversary on the shelf to read though. I did not realize they this book was only her second one!

Anonymous said...

Tracy - I'll admit (and I'm a Christie fan) that this novel isn't one of Christie's finest. But it really is still fun and I have to say I do very much like the Beresfords. Thanks for this review, and thanks for reminding me of those characters.

Katrina said...

I haven't read any Tommy and Tuppence books but they were serialised for TV and I really enjoyed them - for their costumes and settings as much as anything, very stylish.

TracyK said...

After I have read more of the books I will try the TV series, if they are available.