The Secret Adversary is the first Agatha Christie book I am reviewing on this blog, and one of the main reasons I picked this out of all others is that it is in the public domain and free to download for Kindle readers. Introducing Tommy and Tuppence, two of her lesser known characters, this is not your typical Poirot or Miss Marple style murder mystery.
The story begins with a man handing over a mysterious package to a woman as the Lusitania sinks. Then we meet Tommy and Tuppence, who are at a loose end after the war, and are looking for gainful employment. In a fit of enthusiasm, they put an ad in the paper announcing their services as adventurers. A gentleman overhears them and wants to hire Tuppence to do a job for him. A casual alias given by Tuppence snowballs into trouble and Tuppence finds she can demand any amount of money to forget that alias. The adventurers set off to solve an unexpected puzzle and find more than they bargained for.
Initially, I wasn’t too fond of the Tommy and Tuppence characters. But I eventually warmed up to them. The style and the plot of these books is slightly different from the typical manor house format and the reader is not restricted to a single location. Of course, the Beresfords – Tommy and Tuppence – eventually spent a successful career working as spies and gave us other adventures in N or M?, By the Pricking of my Thumbs and Postern of Fate.
The story offers a sort of escape from the high tech thrillers of current times. This is pure adventure, and people actually ponder over a character or name, and think and deduce what it must mean, instead of running searches on Google. I long for a lazy afternoon spent on the porch, reading this book munching on buns and cake with a frothy mug of Nescafe. Just like old times!