The Secret Adversary (1922) – Agatha Christie

This week’s Agatha Christie novel, her second, introduced me to characters I’d never met before. I was aware of Poirot (in fact he was the only character of hers I did read when I was originally introduced to her books as a child), Miss Marple, of course, but I had never heard of Tommy and Tuppence, and their first story is an adventurous tale fraught with international conspiracy, and murder!

The story opens on the decks of the sinking Lusitania, during the First World War, where a young American woman is asked to carry a sealed packet containing a proposed treaty to the UK. The ship sinks and the treaty is never delivered, but it’s still out there, and should it surface now, after the war, it could be a disastrous affair for the current English government.

Enter Thomas Beresford and his friend Prudence Cowley, known to her friends as Tuppence. They aren’t very well off, and are constantly on the prowl to find a way to make a bit of coin, when Tuppence hits on the idea of becoming adventurers, and taking any assignment or case that comes thei way.

Soon enough they are embroiled in the drama as a nefarious, unseen villain, known only as Mr. Brown is hunting for the missing American girl, and the treaty in her possession.

The pair engage in fisticuffs, disguises, subterfuge, all in an attempt to discover the truth, and recover the treaty before it causes mass upset, and conflict within the UK.

Tommy and Tuppence find new allies, and enemies as they plunge, almost blindly into the fray, but their tenacity and skills may stop disaster before it strikes!

I loved this one, I had never heard of these characters before, and Christie creates a wonderful sense of banter and relationship between them, that the reader feels delighted to be a part of. And the story itself, well, that just rockets along, and I will openly admit I fell for a a red herring and thought I had it all figured out before the final reveal.

This one is just fun! It really is an adventure story, with a hint of politics, a conspiracy, and the realisation as the story continues, how much the duo care for one another.

I’ve already thumbed through Christie’s bibliography just to make sure that I would be able to check in with these characters again. Apparently there are five altogether, and I’m not sure if that’s going to be enough for me or not, but I know I’m going to love spending time with them.

The next novel Christie released is another Hercule Poirot mystery, The Murder on the Links…


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