Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie

Tommy and Tuppence Beresford first appeared in Agatha Christie’s The Secret Adversary (first published in 1922) when they had just met up after World War One, both in their twenties. Their next appearance is in Partners in Crime, a collection of short stories, first published in 1929.

Life has become a little dull, especially for Tuppence. Tommy works for the Secret Service but wants to see more action, so when Tommy’s boss Mr Carter offers them both a new assignment they jump at the opportunity. It’s to take over for six months the running of the International Detective Agency under the name of Mr Theodore Blunt. It had been a front for Bolshevist-spying activity and in particular they were to look out for blue letters with a Russian stamp on them. They were also free to undertake any other detective work that comes their way.

All of the stories first appeared in magazines between 1923 and 1928 and they are parodies of fictional detectives of the period, some of whom I recognised and some I didn’t. When she came to write her autobiography many years later, even Agatha Christie couldn’t recognise some of them, noting that whilst some had become household names, others had ‘more or less perished in oblivion. Those I recognised include Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown, The Old Man in the Corner, and Hercule Poirot, himself.

Most of the stories are self-contained adventures. They are slight and brief, and not really taxing or difficult to solve. I enjoyed reading them, because they are written with a light touch, and a sense of humour and fun. Tommy and Tuppence are likeable characters; Tommy is not as dizzy as David Walliams played him in the recent TV series. I’ve now read all the Tommy and Tuppence stories. There are four full length novels as well as Partners in Crime (Tommy and Tuppence 2) and unlike Poirot and Miss Marple Tommy and Tuppence age with each book:

  1. 1922 The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence 1)
  2. 1941 N or M? (Tommy and Tuppence 3)
  3. 1968 By the Pricking of My Thumbs (Tommy and Tuppence 4)
  4. 1973 Postern of Fate (Tommy and Tuppence 5)

Reading Challenges: the Agatha Christie Reading ChallengeMount TBR Reading Challenge, and the Golden Age Vintage Cover Scavenger Hunt.

My copy is the current edition with this cover:


The first UK edition, however, has this cover, which I prefer.

So I’m choosing this cover for the Vintage Scavenger Hunt, in the category of a book showing a Shadowy Figure on its cover.

9 thoughts on “Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie

  1. It’s a funny thing – I’ve never warmed to Tommy and Tuppence. Not sure why at all. In any case, I’ve read a couple of their books, but am not inclined to read more of them. Now Miss Marple and Poirot – different story entirely. LOL


    1. They are not my favourites of Agatha Christie’s books and they vary – Postern of Fate is possibly her worst book. I think By the Pricking of My Thumbs is the best one, but like you I think Miss Marple and Poirot are far better.


  2. Perhaps because they were originally written as parodies, they’re a little hard to take seriously almost a century later. No matter how outlandish a Poirot or Marple plot is, we take it seriously because Christie treated it seriously. That being said, I really liked the 1970s tv adaptations with Francesca Annis as Tuppence.


  3. I gave up on the TV version because of DW’s peformance, as I think I’ve mentioned before. I read the first T&T book, quite enjoyed it but have never felt like finding the rest. Prefer Poirot or Miss Marple. You have a new look for your blog. Very nice.


  4. I do like the Beresfords, Margaret. And some of these stories really are good ‘uns. Oh, and I agree with you about the cover.


  5. I haven’t read any of these stories, but I also really enjoyed the 1970s TV series featuring Tommy and Tuppence. T and T are so stylish, the costumes are perfect art deco, as is their flat. The Walliams version is really grotty compared with it.


  6. I recognized only those four detectives when I read this years ago, Margaret. Since then, I read a book or story that featured the detective that ate the “white diet” for his ulcer (and though “aha!”), but for the life of me I can’t remember which detective it was. . LOL


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