Agatha Christie: The Secret Adversary, Partners in Crime, N or M?, By the Pricking of My Thumbs, Postern of Fate
This year is the 100th year since The Secret Adversary was first published in England, so this year I have decided to read all the Tommy and Tuppence books. We can read about their adventures in four novels and a volume of short stories. Unlike Agatha Christie’s other books, despite the serious subject matter, the stories have a very pleasant atmosphere; the conversations are punctuated by humorous remarks. The two main characters make an excellent pair, they complement each other well: Tuppence is reckless and has good intuitions, while Tommy is sober and thoughtful, but both of them have sharp minds. They are also distinguished from Poirot and Miss Marple by the fact that they actually age in the novels. In the five books, we can practically follow their entire lives.
The Secret Adversary is the author’s second novel. It’s after the First World War, when two childhood friends, Thomas Beresford and Prudence Cowley (whom everyone calls Tuppence for some mysterious reason) meet again and find that they don’t know what to do with themselves in peacetime. They found the Young Adventurers society and immediately got involved in a big conspiracy led by the mysterious Mr. Brown.
The Partners in Crime was published in 1929. Tommy and Tuppence have been happily married for six years, but Tuppence misses their old adventures and is bored. Luckily, their boss entrusts them with running a detective agency. While waiting for the secret message, they solve many other cases. Each short story can stand on its own, but they can also be read as chapters of a book. They are also special because there are references to other detectives: Poirot, for example, but also other greats of the genre.
At the time of N or M, Tommy and Tuppence are already middle-aged, past 40, so their services are no longer needed in the war, even though they want to help. Their children, Derek and Deborah, also take part in the fight, but they do not take their parents seriously. However, at the suggestion of their old boss, Tommy was sent to a small coastal town to investigate the enemy hiding among them. However, Tuppence does not want to be left out and goes after her husband to help him.
In the story of By the Pricking of My Thumbs, Tommy and Tuppence are over 60. They go to visit Tommy’s aunt in a nursing home, where Tuppence hears something strange from one of the old ladies, Mrs. Lancaster. A few weeks later, however, Tommy’s aunt dies, and Mrs. Lancaster disappears from the home. Tuppence goes in search of the lady with the help of a strange painting and has no idea what she will find at the end of the road.
The Postern of Fate is the last novel published about the couple. This is the penultimate novel that the author published before her death. Tommy and Tuppence are in their 70s and have retired to a quiet country town. However, during the renovation of their house, they find a secret message in one of the children’s books, that was left behind by the previous residents. They cannot resist the temptation and start investigating the more than 60-year-old cold case.
It is better reading them in order, as there are references to the previous investigations.