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The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

The Secret Adversary (1922)

by Agatha Christie

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2,424742,559 (3.6)123
Title:The Secret Adversary
Authors:Agatha Christie
Collections:Your library, Read in 2013
Tags:British Mystery Fiction, Tommy and Tuppence (1), 2013 Challenge, Category: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Classic Crime, AlphaCat: The Letter

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The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie (1922)

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This was the second novel Christie wrote, after her unexpected success with The Mysterious Affair at Styles. In the forward to this book, she said she thought she would try a spy novel instead of a detective story.

The novel is set in 1920 – five years after the sinking of the Lusitania, and after the end of The Great War (WW I). Unemployment is high and many young people who had served in some capacity during the war are descending on London to try to find work. Among them are Thomas Beresford (Tommy), who was a soldier in the war, and Miss Prudence Cowley (Tuppence), who was a nurse’s aide in a hospital treating wounded soldiers. The two have been friends since childhood, and come across one another at the train station. Commiserating on their lack of funds and employment they decide to place an ad in the paper offering their services as adventurers. And the story begins …

This one has a lot of twists and turns, and the characters include the usual assortment of good guys and bad guys and those we’re not sure of till the end. I was positive I had it figured out about half-way through, and then about three-fourths of the way I began to doubt my choice. A few pages later I was sure, once again, that I had been correct … or maybe not.

The story line is very obviously dated, but it wasn’t really written as an historical piece, so Christie doesn’t explain a lot of things that would have been relatively fresh and familiar to her readers when this was published. Today’s reader really needs to keep the time and place in mind to fully enjoy the work. Also, spy novels were not Christie’s strong suit. Delaportia’s narration is pretty good, though she has a large cast of characters to try to differentiate and her “foreign” accents (American, French, Russian) are somewhat laughable. All in all … this is an entertaining read, but doesn’t have the genius of Christie’s detective stories. ( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 27, 2016 |
The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie - very good

This is the first of the Tommy and Tuppence novels and is a thriller than a murder mystery. Set in post-ww1 England, the aforementioned friends are low on funds and yearn for adventure. They soon find themselves embroiled in a plot to bring revolution to the streets of Britain.

Great twists and turns, right up until the end I was chopping and changing between the two characters I thought were 'it'. Beautifully done.

Listed in The Guardian's 1000 best novels

( )
  Cassandra2020 | Jan 24, 2016 |
Jane Finn, a young woman surviving the sinking of the Lusitania, disappears while holding onto an important document which was slipped to her as she was leaving the ship.

Tommy & Tuppence form the "Young Adventurers Ltd." and take on the dangerous job of finding the missing Jane Finn & the document before it is used by the government's "Secret Adversary" to create another European war.

Very suspenseful with many Red Herrings, naivete, & romance..... ( )
  Auntie-Nanuuq | Jan 18, 2016 |
This is the first of Christie's Tommy and Tuppence books. When the Lusitania is sunk during World War I, an American spy entrusts essential top-secret documents to a young woman because women are saved first from the sinking ship. However, the woman disappears, and the documents are never recovered. Several years after the war is over, revolutionary anarchists will stop at nothing to find the documents in order to use them to discredit the government of England. Tommy and Tuppence stumble into the mystery and, of course, solve the crime where the authorities have failed.

I was warned that the Tommy and Tuppence books aren't as good as Christie's other detectives, but this one wasn't bad. It did seem like everything fell into place way too neatly for them, but if you can get over that, it's a good mystery. I did figure out most of the solution by the halfway point of the novel, although there was a classic Christie twist at the end. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
A mysterious man approaches a young woman on the deck of the rapidly sinking Lusitania. He asks her to take a packet of papers that are vitally important to the war effort and furture world peace. Knowing that his own future is unlikely to survive the ship's demise, he knows that the rule of "women and children" first will ensure the young lady will safely enter a lifeboat. The woman, Jane Finn, does indeed survive but the exchange of the papers was seen by sinister forces who wish to keep the documents away from the American and British governments. Jane is struck on the head, kidnapped and held for several years in a rest home when she realizes her best defense is to fake amnesia.

Tommy Beresford and Tuppence Cowley have been friends since childhood and find that they are both without gainful employment so decide to form Young Adventurers, a detective agency wherein they will take on any job as long as they get paid. They are contacted by 2 gentlemen, both of whom are looking for the long-missing Jane Finn. A group of men, led by the sinister Mr. Brown, will do everything they can to stop the young couple from solving the case.

I like the characters of Tommy and Tuppence and I thought the story began with quite an intriguing mystery. Unfortunately there were so many characters after awhile that I had a difficult time keeping them all straight. It was not too difficult to figure out who the real "Mr. Brown" was even though there were red herrings aplenty.
( )
  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
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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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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
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:30 -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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 19 descriptions

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2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400102693, 1400109213

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