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The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

The Secret Adversary (1922)

by Agatha Christie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Tommy and Tuppence (1)

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This is different from my usual Agatha Christie fare, I've read plenty of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple but none of the Tommy and Tuppence which are more spy novels than detective stories. After the war when London had more people than jobs two old friend meet by chance and form a company “Young Adventurers Ltd.” ‘willing to do anything, go anywhere’, and it lands them in all sorts of trouble.

The action is fast paced with plenty of twists, if you decide to read this remember it was written in 1922 and the expressions and settings are from that time period so some things may seem weird to you. I enjoyed it, the same style that Miss Christie had for mysteries works well with political intrigue. ( )
  BellaFoxx | Feb 14, 2015 |
A little bit too complicated for poor old me, but the Tuppence protagonist is a dear. ( )
  leandrod | Feb 10, 2015 |
Book #2 of Agatha Christie's mysteries is completed. I like Tommy and Tuppence and I think it's a shame that they don't appear in more of her books. That said, the plot of this one is so ludicrous, I couldn't stop laughing... but I guess in 1922 it was what passed as literature for the masses. ( )
  olegalCA | Dec 9, 2014 |
Book #2 of Agatha Christie's mysteries is completed. I like Tommy and Tuppence and I think it's a shame that they don't appear in more of her books. That said, the plot of this one is so ludicrous, I couldn't stop laughing... but I guess in 1922 it was what passed as literature for the masses. ( )
  olegalCA | Dec 9, 2014 |
Rating: 3* of five for both book and movie

The Publisher Says: After WW1, childhood pals Tommy Beresford and "Tuppence" Prudence Cowley, lack money and prospects, become adventurers for the British Government. Rich American Julius P. Hersheimmer, powerful Mr Whittington, and an evil mastermind's conspiracy all seek Jane Finn, given papers vital to peace by an agent at the sinking of the Luisitania. Kidnaps, escapes.

My Review: The novel is a dated piece, lots of hoopla about Bolsheviks and the General Strike and Socialism!! Socialism!! Tuppence is a right little minx. Tommy is a public school boy in the most English sense of those words. It was, I suppose, delicious in 1922 for a mere woman to be the instigator of an adventurous life for the borning couple on the other side of the law; that she doesn't have to Pay Dearly For It is truly eyebrow-raising.

Sixty years later, along comes Francesca Annis to embody Tuppence, and speak the faithfully adapted words Dame Agatha wrote. Annis is just lovely. She does a marvelous job of scheming behind a melting smile. But all the to-ing and fro-ing! Just-missed-'em and who-said-what moments galore. It creaks, in other words, to more savvy modern ears, very much the way Mary Roberts Rinehart's books do, or Georgette Heyer's mysteries do.

All that said, however, I didn't hurl the book aside or stop the film. Because in the end, it was fun. Just a bit silly, but still fun, and to me that's worth a lot. But the Big Reveal is just so durned obvious! And the American character so, so buffoonish! Oh well, autres temps autres moeurs. It doesn't do to apply too much modern sensibility to olden days. But I will say this to modern audiences: Either medium, go in expecting a relaxed pace (the film is 2 hours!) and you'll be better off by the end.

The chase scene with a 1915 Rolls-Royce amazed me.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. ( )
1 vote richardderus | Sep 4, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christie, Agathaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
May, NadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Siikarla, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Related movies
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To all those who lead
monotonous lives
in the hope that they may experience
at second hand
the delights and dangers of
First words
It was 2 p.m. on the afternoon of May 7, 1915. (Prologue)
"Tommy, old thing!" (Chapter I)
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description

She has been missing for five years. And neither her body nor the secret documents she was carrying have ever been found.
Now post-war England's economic recovery depends on finding her and getting the papers back. but he two young Brits working undercover for the ministry know only that her name was Jane Finn and the only photo of her is in the hands of her rich American cousin. they don't know yet about a mysterious and ruthless man called "Mr. Brown" or the beautiful, but sinister, older woman who knows all about Jane Finn ... and therefore must die.


From his hiding place behind the door Tommy could hear the Russian's fingers drumming on the table.
"Then what more do you want?"
"The document itself," said the German bluntly.
"Ah! It is not in your possession? But you know where it is?"
"One person - perhaps. And we are not sure of that even."
"Who is this person?"
"A girl."
Tommy held his breath.
"A girl?" the Russian's voice rose contemptuously. "And you have not made her speak? In Russia we have ways of making a girl talk."
"This case is different," said the German sullenly.
"How - different?" He paused for a moment, then went on" "Where is the girl now?"
"She is - "
But Tommy heard no more. A crashing blow descended on his head, and all was darkness ...
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553122479, Paperback)

Where is Jane Finn? The mere mention of her name produced a very strange reaction all over London. So strange, in fact, that Tommy and Tuppence deceided to find this mysterious missing lady. And once those two determine sleuths made up their minds, nothing could stop them -- not international espionage, kidnapping...or even murder.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:32 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Hiring themselves out as "young adventurers" proves to be a smart move for Tommy and Tuppence. All Tuppence has to do in their first job is take an all-expense paid trip to Paris and pose as an American named Jane Finn. But with the assignment comes a bribe to keep quiet, a threat to her life, and the disappearance of her new employer. Now Tuppence's newest job is playing detective.… (more)

» see all 19 descriptions

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Average: (3.59)
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