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Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie

Postern of Fate (1973)

by Agatha Christie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Tommy and Tuppence (5)

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This is the last novel that Agatha Christie ever wrote. In previous titles, NEMESIS and ELEPHANTS CAN REMEMBER she had brought the careers of her other sleuths to a close, although the final novels published relating to Hercule Poirot (CURTAIN) and Miss Marple (SLEEPING MURDER) were both written in about 1940).

Tommy and Tuppence appear together in four full-length novels and one collection of short stories. The collection of short stories is Partners in Crime, (1929), the four novels are THE SECRET ADVERSARY (1922), N or M? (1941), BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMBS (1968); and POSTERN OF FATE (1973).

Unlike Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple the Beresfords actually age in real time, beginning in their early 20s in 1922 and in POSTERN OF FATE they are in their 70s.

Rather appropriately the mystery in this story begins with a code which Tuppence breaks with ease. While Tommy was the one who worked in Intelligence and then as a private detective, and Tuppence was the one who raised the children and kept the home fires burning, it always seemed to be it was Tuppence whom Christie favored.

This novel is also about memory. The house that the Beresfords have bought has changed hands many times since Mary Jordan died and, as in ELEPHANTS CAN REMEMBER, most of the knowledge about the "Frowline" is mixture of hearsay and innuendo. But the discovery of a gravestone in the local churchyard sets both Beresfords off on a hunt for the truth. Tuppence explores what elderly villagers remember while Tommy goes through more official channels. This is rather evocative of the strategy adopted by Hercule Poirot and Ariadne Oliver in ELEPHANTS CAN REMEMBER. I think it is also Christie exploring how her own memory works.
It turns out that the house that the Beresfords have bought has been "of interest" to British intelligence for decades as a possible hiding place for documents that the government would rather not see made publicly available.

In ELEPHANTS CAN REMEMBER there were references to cases that Poirot had solved, and there are similar passing references here to the previous novels in which the Beresfords featured.

Those who are looking in this novel for signs that Agatha Christie was "past it" or had Alzheimer's won't find it here. The novel is carefully plotted by a writer who still has something to say. However I think some of the episodes of dialogue between the Beresfords is a bit limp, nothing that I could imagine a husband and wife, even after about fifty years of married life, saying to each other.
In addition some of the plot strands get confusing with informants not clearly explaining the information they are passing on.

I think the novel is also a little outdated in its writing style although it may not have been at time of publication. It reflects a belief Christie held for all her life: that there are some persistent forces of evil that regenerate from one generation to the next. Sometimes they are not at first seen for the malignancies that they are. ( )
  smik | Oct 28, 2014 |
I was hoping for the palate cleanser of Tommy and Tuppence and it was okay for a while and then the quartet of Passanger to Frankfurt reappeared and it all went horribly wrong and stopped making any sense.
  amyem58 | Jul 15, 2014 |
As a person who generally loves Agatha Christie's works, this was not my favourite book to read. The idea of the mystery was excellent, but it felt like a build up went a bit too long and generally went all over the place. The ending (I won't spoil it) was not worthy of how great the idea was and felt out of place. It's a decent bedtime read, but probably not a book I would read over and over again to enjoy in my spare time. The only great part of this book were the dialogue of Tommy and Tuppence. I enjoyed watching them banter back and forth, so if you love them as two people, not as two detectives, you'll at least enjoy that part of the book. ( )
  plainteapot | Feb 11, 2014 |
This was Christie's last novel, but it's also one of the most confusing of her novels. There's lots of talking, and when I say lots of talking, I mean that it could probably do with being about 100 pages shorter. The idea behind the mystery is intriguing, but so much time is spent getting to it and then lots of time wasted investigating the past that I found myself flicking forward to see how many pages I had left before it was all over. The most frustrating thing though is that the revelation about the mystery all happens in the last three chapters and yet none of the investigating beforehand seems to have built up towards said conclusion. The whole novel ends up being a mish-mash of random ideas, none of which really follow through and I found this somewhat disappointing. There were moments when the pace of the story picked up or the characters were particularly engaging, but overall it felt like you really had to work at reading this story to get anywhere. ( )
  Hanneri | Jan 30, 2014 |
I didn't expect to like the Tommy and Tuppence mysteries by Agatha Christie, but this one has me looking forward to more.

The two former detectives have decided to retire in their declining years to a large house in a country village. Things are not as tame as they seem, however. Tuppence discovers a code in a copy of Robert Louis Stevenson's The Black Arrow. Her curiosity id piqued and she must find out who "Mary Jordon" is, who, according to a young boy who left the book behind, "did not die naturally."

It turns out that Tommy and Tuppence aren't the only ones who know something about the old house. Things get dangerous as the two begin to uncover a mystery that is over 60 years old. ( )
  Coffeehag | Jan 24, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (52 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Agatha Christieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crepax, LucianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacono, CarloCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laine, Anna-LiisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pekkanen, PanuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Four great gates has the city of Damascus...
Postern of Fate, the Desert Gate, Disaster's Cavern, Fort of Fear...
Pass not beneath, O Caravan, or pass not singing. Have you heard
That silence where the birds are dead yet something pipeth like a bird?...
James Elroy Flecker
From "Gates of Damascus"
For Hannibal and his master
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"Books!" said Tuppence.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451200535, Mass Market Paperback)

In this ingenious puzzler-the last novel Agatha Christie ever wrote-Tommy and Tuppence Beresford discover a clue to a killer's identity within the pages of a children's storybook.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:04 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Tommy and Tuppence buy a home and find they have acquired a mystery which includes an unsolved murder.

» see all 9 descriptions

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