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05 January 2019

Book Review: The Secret Adversary

The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence #1)The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Charming. I first read N or M? when I was 12 or 13 and fell in love with Tommy and Tuppence but I had never read this one. Though it seems like it's a tired formula now, a plucky couple solving crimes, one assumes when Christie was playing with it, it was original. And striking for Tuppence to be such an independent and mouthy woman. Bless her.

Have I said I love Tuppence?

Tuppence's given name is Prudence. She's the daughter of a vicar, to whom Christie alludes once or twice, always indicating that he is rather befuddled as to what to do about his unconventional daughter. Her nickname, Tuppence (as in "I don't care tuppence"), sketches her attitude towards convention. Like Millie, who was thoroughly modern.

When Tuppence, who has made it clear that she wants to marry for money, finally realizes she's fallen in love with Tommy after she has received a proposal from a fabulously wealthy millionaire; "What idiots girls are! I've always thought so. I suppose I shall sleep with his photograph under my pillow and dream about him all night. It's dreadful to feel you've been false to your principles."

Have I said I love Tuppence?

Christie makes it clear that Tuppence is the brains of the operation, a convention that was not typical in 1920s spy thrillers, where intelligent women were evil and beautiful women were built into the plot solely to provide romance for the hard-boiled leading man. As the two are trying to convince a secret agent to let them continue the accidental investigation they've started, the agent thinks this;

"Outwardly, he's an ordinary clean-limbed, rather block-headed young Englishman. Slow in his mental processes. On the other hand, it's quite impossible to lead him astray through his imagination. He hasn't got any....The little lady's quite different. More intuition and less common sense. They make a pretty pair working together."

Christie's writing is a bit blase but I didn't really care in the end. A fun, quick read.

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