Book Review: The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 3/5 stars

This book gets Jean-Paul’s Gold Star Seal of Approval for Having a Strong Female Lead™.  It’s totally a thing.

This is my first foray into Agatha Christie books.  I was both pleased and a bit disappointed with the book.  This is the second book written by Christie and introduces us to characters that she will use again in future novels.  Tommy Beresford and Prudence “Tuppence” Cowley are lifelong friends who are looking to make some money.  They overhear a conversation at a restaurant that leads them into a fairly immoral blackmail plot.  The blackmail plot leads them into a world of international intrigue putting them in the position to foil an attempt by the mysterious Mr. Brown to throw England into chaos.

The plot is kind of convoluted.  Tommy and Tuppence are looking for a girl and a document that she may be in possession of.  The document is of utmost importance because if it gets out, it could lead to another war.  It is never quite clear how or why this would happen, which I guess is not exactly necessary, but it is a hole that bothered my brain while I was reading.

The Tommy and Tuppence characters are absolutely delightful.  Tuppence is smart, strong-willed and reactionary while Tommy is more of a wait and think kind of person.  I found myself wishing that the whole world would talk like those two talk to each other.  They are playful and witty and exchange mocking barbs with each other.  The times they are together make for wonderful reading.  But then Agatha Christie makes the mistake of separating them for a good portion of the middle of the book.  And apart, the story drifts into a bunch of larger than life characters that are only somewhat interesting.  Each kind of flits from scene to scene but the magic of their interactions are gone.  This is more noticeable with Tommy than it is with Tuppence, but it applies to both.

“The Secret Adversary” is a decent book with some things going for it.  It was only Agatha Christie’s second novel so she may still be finding her voice.  I am sold on the Tommy and Tuppence combination, though, so I will definitely be reading more of them.