Tommy and Tuppence, who quickly became one of my favourite creations of Agatha Christie, first introduced in The Secret Adversary, are back in this collection of short stories, that are interconnected, as the married couple take on a number of cases.
A Fairy in the Flat opens the book and reveals that Tommy is working for the Secret Service (from a desk), while Tuppence yearns for some excitement. Moments after this declaration, Tommy’s boss shows up, suggests a temporary leave *wink wink* so they can take over a detective agency where there are a series of mysteries afoot as his boss outlines for the pair.
The stories were published individually and gathered into this collection, and apparently, some of them, are meant to parody authors of the time. The pair dive into the casework with…
A Pot of Tea sees the pair taking on their first case, something that Tuppence has her hand in because she’s figured it’s easier to solve the mystery if she creates it in the first place (and playing matchmaker at the same time).
The Affair of the Pink Pearl is a two chapter story that involves a missing pearl, a romance between classes, and a suspicious house guest. Tommy and Tuppence trade banter and come at the case from different angles both intent on finding the truth.
The Adventure of the Sinister Stranger is another two chapter tale that ties into the main story, having to do with blue letters and the number sixteen. The pair find themselves in trouble when Tommy is seized by a false officer of the law, but the pair’s knowledge of the detective classics will let them save the day and outwit the villains.
Finessing the King/The Gentleman Dressed in Newspaper is another two chapter story that sees Tommy and Tuppence investigating a murder that occurs in a club holding a fancy dress party. The evidence points to an affair of the heart and a killer dressed as a character from Through the Looking Glass.
The Case of the Missing Lady sees Tommy playing at Sherlock as the pair head off to find an explorer’s missing fiancé. Hiding the violin Tuppence and Tommy follow the clues to a very funny conclusion. I laughed aloud at this one.
Blindman’s Buff is a quick and entertaining tale that plays like part of a mystery serial. While Tommy plays at being a blind detective and attempts to amaze Tuppence with his ‘heightened awareness’ he runs afoul of a man set on causing trouble for the young investigator.
The Man in the Mist sees murder most foul cross paths with Tommy and Tuppence. Tommy digs into disguises for this story, dressed as a priest and meets up with the most beautiful (and rumour has it, stupidest) actress in England. But she doesn’t deserve the fate that befalls her. Can the duo suss it out?
The Crackler puts the duo on the trail of a counterfeiting ring at the behest of Scotland Yard and its dangerous work; gambling, drinking and dangerous threats abound. This one was another of sheer delight and just reminds me of how fun a mystery adventure can be.
The Sunningdale Mystery has the pair figuring out a murder case over a meal on a diner. Sorting it all, laying out all the facts and coming to the conclusion of who is really responsible and why.
The House of the Lurking Death has the pair investigating a mysterious case of poisoning that is further complicates when their prime suspect is murdered as well. All of these stories are just a joyous romp and I love Tommy and Tuppence so much after one novel and a collection of short stories.
The Unbreakable Alibi has the pair investigating two completely true stories to figure out how a young woman could be in two places at once with the wager of her heart hanging in the balance. Will love and good detective work prevail?
The Clergyman’s Daughter/The Red House is set at Christmas and told over two chapters. The duo find themselves investigating a house with strange happenings and interested buyers amid rumours of a treasure. Can Tommy and Tuppence find it and let the Clergyman’s Daughter follow her heart?
The Ambassador’s Boots causes a furor for Tommy and Tuppence as they investigate a case of swapped luggage, and find themselves menaced by thugs who are working to keep something secret and using diplomatic channels to do it.
The Man Who Was No. 16 is the final tale and brings us full circle as the duo go after the spy referred to only as 16, and possibly come across more than they can handle – Tuppence is kidnapped, and 16 is a master of disguise. Will they resolve this last mystery and step away from being detectives once and for all?
Happily they will make a couple of more appearances in Christie’s writings, because as much as I enjoy Poirot, I adore Tommy and Tuppence, and this was a ripping ride that I enjoyed every part of. There wasn’t a weak story to be had, and travelling with this pair of detectives is a real joy.