The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie: Book Review

The Secret Adversary was first published in 1922. It was Agatha Christie’s second book and the first featuring Tommy and Tuppence. In this book they have just met up after World War One, both in their twenties: ‘an essentially modern-looking couple’. They are both stony broke and decide to set up a joint venture under the name of the Young Adventurers Ltd, initially intending to hire themselves out to commit crimes.

A Mr Whittington overhears their conversation and offers Tuppence their first assignment, but when she tells him her name is ‘Jane Finn’ he acts very strangely and thinks she is blackmailing him. From then on Tommy and Tuppence set out to find Jane Finn, a name Tommy had overheard from a conversation in the street.

Reading it reminded somewhat of Enid Blyton’s adventure books, mixed up with P G Wodehouse’s books. It’s a spy/detective story that is fast and furious with Tommy and Tuppence landing themselves in all sorts of dangerous situations. It’s also full of red herrings and they’re never very sure who they can trust. Tommy and Tuppence advertise for information relating to Jane Finn and have two responses. One is from Mr Carter, from British Intelligence who tells them that Jane Finn, a survivor from the torpedoed Lusitania, was handed a certain document – a secret agreement, with a ‘new and deadly significance’. The second response is from Mr Julius P Hersheimmer, a young American, who says he is Jane’s cousin and wants to find her.

Just who is the mysterious Mr Brown, the secretive mastermind behind a plot to unite all of England’s enemies, overthrow the government and cause anarchy?  There is no clue to his real identity, he remains elusive and always in the background. But it becomes clear that he is one of two people and as I read I swung from believing it to be one character to the other.

One point of interest is the brief mention of Inspector Japp, of Scotland Yard. His role in this is merely incidental.

I enjoyed this book and I liked Tommy and Tuppence, who by the end realise they are in love. Agatha Christie only wrote five books featuring this couple. Unlike Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, Tommy and Tuppence age as the books were written:

  • Partners in Crime: a book of short stories
  • N or M?
  • By the Pricking of My Thumbs
  • Postern of Fate.

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 378 KB
Print Length: 229 pages
Source: Project Gutenberg EBook

9 thoughts on “The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie: Book Review”

  1. Oh how fun. Years ago I read one of the Tommy and Tuppence books. I’m not sure which one, but I didn’t realize there were 5. I imagine I can get them on Gutenberg. Thanks!

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  2. I think I saw a free e-book of this one the other day. I didn´t download it, however, because I have read 2-3 Tommy and Tuppence stories, and I am not very fond of the characters. They strike me as rather silly. And as the ones I read were about the middle-aged couple, I can´t imagine they seemed more mature in the first one.

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  3. This is a fun book. I enjoyed it when I read it many years ago and the plot is nicely done. So was the TV adaptation. I’m not a big fan of the Beresfords, and Christie was much better with Poirot and Marple but books like this are a nice escape every now and then, I think.

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