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The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie
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The Secret Adversary (1922)

by Agatha Christie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Tommy and Tuppence (1)

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2,200592,948 (3.6)104
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English (54)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (59)
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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 |
The author's second novel and my second Agatha Christie book. Simple characters and story, but still had a clever twist. ( )
  Fliss88 | Jul 20, 2014 |
A short and entertaining read-- entertaining as much for its mystery as for the laughable sensationalism of its topic. Very timely for 1922-- all about Bolsheviks and revolutions and Labour Party members and secret treaties, with a hero and heroine full of jolly upper-class Britishness and levity, if not imagination, in tough spots. Very characteristic of an era.

The mystery, though constructed out of sensationalist and dated elements, has an excellent form. We are told quite frankly in the first few chapters that we will meet the Bad Guy before we know that he IS the Bad Guy-- and then we spend the rest of the book trying to figure out which of the characters he is. Very good, in that regard. Also, as in all good Christie, everyone's got their fingers in the pot somehow-- she manages to keep each character's critical discoveries secret from us until the end-- but even though we're lagging far behind most of the characters, we don't feel stupid because we, as the readers, have our own theories that we don't necessarily want to be spoiled. ( )
  Hanneri | Apr 11, 2014 |
I'm used to my favorite Poirot novels, so this was a bit dry and confusing in the beginning, but I really got into it a third of the way through. ( )
  Dnaej | Mar 14, 2014 |
I'm used to my favorite Poirot novels, so this was a bit dry and confusing in the beginning, but I really got into it a third of the way through. ( )
  Dnaej | Mar 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
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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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Epigraph
Dedication
To all those who lead
monotonous lives
in the hope that they may experience
at second hand
the delights and dangers of
adventure
First words
It was 2 p.m. on the afternoon of May 7, 1915. (Prologue)
"Tommy, old thing!" (Chapter I)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
    THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPH<>/B>

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.
    -------------------------------------

    WORDS OVERHEARD

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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