The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

The Secret Adversary Agatha ChristieThe Secret Adversary: “It was 2 p.m. on the afternoon of May 7th, 1915.”

Detectives: Tommy Beresford & Prudence “Tuppence” Cowley

Published: 1922 (Christie’s 2nd published book)

Length: 308 pages

Setting: London; Bournemouth; Holyhead, Wales; Kent


Tommy Beresford and Tuppence Cowley are childhood chums who meet up after the war.  Tuppence, the daughter of a clergyman, wishes to spread her independent wings and Tommy, demobilized after the war, is looking for a new direction in life.  As neither is flush with money, they put their entrepreneurial brains together and decide to launch The Young Adventurers, Ltd.  Overhearing them, a man named Whittington follows Tuppence and claims he’s interested in her services.  Immediately wary, Tuppence gives her name as Jane Finn, the assumed name which she’d heard earlier from Tommy.  The appellation causes Whittington to react nearly apoplectically and the following investigation sends them on a whirlwind of adventure from which they are unsure if they’ll return alive!

The Ritz London

The Ritz London ~ source Wikimedia Commons

Who is the real Jane Finn and why has she disappeared?  And why is every searching for her, from her American cousin Julius P. Hersheimmer, to criminal masterminds, and government agents?  Tommy and Tuppence finds themselves in trouble and out of it, chasing false and legitimate trails through London and the English countryside, dodging bullets, finding missing documents and missing memories until they expose the most devious, complex and ruthless criminal mastermind of them all, the secret adversary!

Bournemouth Town Hall

Bournemouth Town Hall ~ source Wikimedia Commons

Tommy and Tuppene’s charm immediately captures your imagination and your heart.  They are neither imminently clever, nor dazzling connected nor unerringly lucky, but Christie imbues them with a common English steadfastness, determination and good sense that serves them well.  Mr. Carter, their contact, describes their solid traits:

“Outwardly, he’s an ordinary clean-limbed, rather blockheaded young Englishman.  Slow in his mental processes.  On the other hand, it’s quite impossible to lead him astray through his imagination.  He hasn’t got any — so he’s difficult to deceive.  He worries things out slowly, and once he’s got hold of anything he doesn’t let go.  The little lady’s quite different.  More intuition and less common sense.  They make a pretty pair working together.  Pace and stamina.”

Gatehouse at Godinton Park

Gatehouse at Godinton Park ~ source Wikimedia Commons

Christie’s razor-sharp plotting was a little looser in this book; often the Adventurers trust someone merely on feeling, which I suppose also illustrates their detective naiveté as they experience their first case.  But the reckless pace of the story and the kaleidoscope of adventure leave you hanging onto the edge of your seat and you’re almost breathless at the end.

I loved Tommy and Tuppence when I first was introduced to them years ago and they were just as delightful the second time ’round!

⇐  The Mysterious Affair at Styles                                            Murder on the Links

21 thoughts on “The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

    • This book moved so quickly with people running here, there, and everywhere. So much fun! I’m looking forward to my next Tommy and Tuppence. I don’t think we’ll ever see Poirot run! Ha, ha! 😉

    • They’re both a little better than I remembered them. However I can’t remember which book I read with them in it. I don’t think it was this one.

  1. I looooooovvvveeee Tommy and Tuppence and now I want to pull out my collection and read only those books! But I must NOT, just way too many things I am reading and not finishing! Great review!

    • Oh, I know all about reading and not finishing, unfortunately. At least these are quick reads and easy to fit in. That is, if you want to ….. 😉

  2. Tommy & Tuppence are my favourite Christie detectives. I wish she had written more for them. I find Miss Marple too fussy & Poirot always annoys me.
    N&M is my fav Tommy & Tuppence.

    • Oh, I’m glad that I have N&M to look forward to. I like Poirot but he’s all in his head. Tommy and Tuppence are action!

  3. I knew from previous posts that you enjoyed T&T so I was prepared for this post. My goodness, it is amazing how different people can view the exact same thing and come away with completely opposite reactions.

    When I read this I think my review pretty much consisted of “Should have been called the bumbling amateur hour Detectives”. I was not impressed 🙂

    • Ha, ha! I do know what you mean. But I think that was Christie’s point. These two, instead of solving cases using their brains only, they relied on good old English stick-to-it-ness and luck and perseverance. Poirot really solves cases in his head and there is not much moving around but T&T are action. I kind of like the contrast. And keep in mind, this is their first case. Hopefully this was simply their learning curve and they’ll improve as time goes on.

    • Yes, exactly. As I said to Bookstooge, Poirot solves cases in his head, but Tommy and Tuppence are all action. They do sort of fumble their way through it, but from their fumbles choose wisely and it works for them. They’re great!

  4. Oh, it’s been so long since I’ve read a Tommy and Tuppence novel. I don’t believe I ever read this one, but it sounds charming. You really are going to send me down an Agatha Christie rabbit-hole, aren’t you?! 🙂

    • Well, after being tempted by everyone else, I’m happy to be the one to do the tempting, lol! It was alot of fun. I think you’d love it!

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