After reading a super biography of Agatha Christie, I announced here that I’ve decided to read ALL of Ms Christie’s books, in order.

First up was “The Mysterious Affair at Styles” which introduced Hercule Poirot to the world.

Ms Christie’s second book, “The Secret Adversary” does not feature M. Poirot, but coolly introduces us to Tommy & Tuppence, a delightful couple who set out sleuthing for a lark (and to earn some much-needed cash) and discover that they are actually rather good at the whole business.

Here let me quickly state for the record, that I have never actually read a Tommy & Tuppence adventure before, despite having read many Agatha Christie books over the years, so this was a delightful find.

The story opens in 1915 in the final moments before the sinking of the Lusitania, but we quickly move on post-war London, to Lyons Corner House, where the impoverished, out-of-work young friends – “their united ages would certainly not have totalled forty-five” – have tea and discuss their penniless predicament.

Demobbed, practically out of funds, they go Dutch on the bill, discuss ways of earning money and then Tuppence decides they should set up a joint venue and advertise for clients:

“Two young adventurers for hire. Willing to do anything, go anywhere. Pay must be good. (We might as well make that clear from the start)”

They are a delightful pair, with Tuppence refreshingly outspoken and candid for a young lady of the early 1900s. From their impetuous, totally unplanned debut, they actually land a job.

But that would be telling…

Here is just one review from 102 years ago, courtesy Wikipedia:

“Upon publication of the first book edition it was reviewed by The Times Literary Supplement in its edition of 26 January 1922, which described it as “a whirl of thrilling adventures”. It stated that the characters of Tommy and Tuppence were “refreshingly original” and praised the fact that the “identity of the arch-criminal, the elusive “Mr Brown”, is cleverly concealed to the very end.”

“The Secret Adversary” is a good page-turner, and reads well more than a century on, despite the odd archaic expression.

Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thought I’d guessed the ending.

I hadn’t.

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