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The secret adversary

4.2 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 221 pages
  • Publisher: Bodley House (1966)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0007IX5RK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,621,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is the best Christie I have ever read! It is different to her usual whodunnits and yet is just as thrilling. Tommy and Tuppence, the two main characters, have been friends since childhood. In a tea room they sit and discuss the difficulties of finding work after the war and decide to start up their own adventure company, a kind of detective agency. This opens up a spiralling story of mystery and suspense. The opening prologue works really well in setting the scene. A sinking ship and a man handing over important documents to be delivered, to the appropriate people in London. This reminded me of films such as the "The Thirty Nine steps" and "The Lady Vanishes". Indeed the book has a very similar style to these films, which I enjoyed as it had a certain charm. The characters are very likeable and again owe something to the earlier mentioned films. Margaret Lockwood would make a good Tuppence and Robert Donat a perfect Tommy. Mr Brown is the illusive villain of the book, which adds another important element to the style of the story. This story was I believe, the second one Mrs Christie published, after a Poirot yarn. It seems a shame Tommy and Tuppence did not become as popular as Poirot or Marple. Tommy and Tuppence have to track down Jane Finn, a name they overheard in a tea room, that later surfaces again in a very different light. Agatha Christie once overheard a person talking in a tea room about someone called Jane Fish and she thought it would be good to use the idea of a strange name being overheard and later being used again in a different context - changing it to Finn as Fish sounded silly! The details of London in this book make it a particular delight to read. From the Lyons Tea shop to the now closed Dover street tube station, make the reader feel part of that time. I would recommend this book to all Christie fans and those more familiar with her sleuths, as these characters will be a welcome surprise.
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Format: Paperback
Although I read a great number of Agatha Christie books as a child, I never came across any from her "Tommy & Tuppence" series on my mother's bookshelves. So I thought that it might be fun to try the first of them to see what Christie's "other" series was like. And this first in the T&T series is like is a strange mix of John Buchan and P.G. Wodehouse -- it's an espionage story, but often reads like a parody of one. The title's play on the Joseph Conrad novel hints at a certain tongue in cheekiness, as does the use of every possible spy adventure cliché.

The story opens with a prologue aboard the sinking Lusitania in 1915, as a mysterious man entrusts a secret diplomatic packet to an American teenage girl. We then leap forward to 1919, where we meet Tommy and Tuppence, a pair of lovely young adults who are somewhat adrift and broke following their wartime experiences. Running into each other in London, the childhood friends cook up a scheme to advertise themselves as "Young Adventurers" for hire. Thanks to a wildly improbable coincidence (a snatch of overheard conversation), they find themselves in the midst of a plot to destroy England.

It seems that some secret mastermind has managed to unite all of England's enemies (Bolshevik Russians, defeated Germany, Irish Republicans, and the English working class) in common cause. All they need to do is provoke a general strike that will topple the government and unleash anarchy (exactly how or why this is the case is left murky) -- and the packet entrusted to the girl on the Lusitania is the key.
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By takingadayoff TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Sept. 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
It was a real treat to come across this Kindle edition of the first Tommy & Tuppence adventure. They're so young in this story -- "Their united ages certainly would not have totaled forty-five." But their experiences in World War I had made them more mature than average twenty-two year olds.

I've read a lot of Agatha Christie's works, most of it back when I was about twelve or thirteen. For a summer when Nancy Drew suddenly seemed too childish, but I wasn't ready for adult books yet, Agatha Christie came to the rescue. At a rate of nearly a book a day, I went through all the Agatha Christie the public library and used bookstores had to offer. I liked the Miss Marple stories, maybe because Marple stayed in the background for the most part. Hercule Poirot seemed silly and cartoonish to me even then. I loved Tommy and Tuppence, but there weren't many stories that featured them.

The Secret Adversary is a spy story rather than a murder mystery. It's not bad, twisting back and forth, but I particularly enjoyed the glimpse at the young Tommy and Tuppence, before they were a couple, and for the authentic descriptions of post World War I London. I thought I knew Central London fairly well, but I was stumped when Tuppence left the Dover Street Tube Station and walked toward Piccadilly. I found out that used to be the name of what is now the Green Park Station.

One thing that stands out is how independent Tuppence is. She seems to have little trouble finding work (even as Tommy is having a hard time finding a job even a year after the War) and even turns down a proposal from a rich American, much to her own surprise.
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