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Tommy & Tuppence Mysteries #1

The Secret Adversary

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Tommy Beresford and Prudence 'Tuppence' Cowley are young, in love… and flat broke. Just after Great War, there are few jobs available and the couple are desperately short of money. Restless for excitement, they decide to embark on a daring business scheme: Young Adventurers Ltd.—"willing to do anything, go anywhere." Hiring themselves out proves to be a smart move for the couple. In their first assignment for the mysterious Mr. Whittingtont, all Tuppence has to do in their first job is take an all-expense paid trip to Paris and pose as an American named Jane Finn. But with the assignment comes a bribe to keep quiet, a threat to her life, and the disappearance of her new employer. Now their newest job are playing detective.

Where is the real Jane Finn? The mere mention of her name produces a very strange reaction all over London. So strange, in fact, that they decided to find this mysterious missing lady. She has been missing for five years. And neither her body nor the secret documents she was carrying have ever been found. Now post-war England's economic recovery depends on finding her and getting the papers back. But he two young working undercover for the British ministry know only that her name and the only photo of her is in the hands of her rich American cousin. It isn’t long before they find themselves plunged into more danger than they ever could have imagined—a danger that could put an abrupt end to their business… and their lives.

268 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1922

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About the author

Agatha Christie

5,293 books59.5k followers
Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan.

More than seventy detective novels of British writer Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie include The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926), and And Then There Were None (1939); she also wrote plays, including The Mousetrap (1952).

This best-selling author of all time wrote 66 crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and six novels under a pseudonym in romance. Her books sold more than a billion copies in the English language and a billion in translation. According to Index Translationum, people translated her works into 103 languages at least, the most for an individual author. Of the most enduring figures in crime literature, she created Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple. She atuhored The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theater.

The youngest of three children of the Miller family. The Millers had two other children: Margaret Frary Miller (1879–1950), called Madge, who was eleven years Agatha's senior, and Louis Montant Miller (1880–1929), called Monty, ten years older than Agatha.

Before marrying and starting a family in London, she had served in a Devon hospital during the First World War, tending to troops coming back from the trenches. During the First World War, she worked at a hospital as a nurse; later working at a hospital pharmacy, a job that influenced her work, as many of the murders in her books are carried out with poison. During the Second World War, she worked as a pharmacy assistant at University College Hospital, London, acquiring a good knowledge of poisons which feature in many of her novels.

Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, came out in 1920. During her first marriage, Agatha published six novels, a collection of short stories, and a number of short stories in magazines.

In late 1926, Agatha's husband, Archie, revealed that he was in love with another woman, Nancy Neele, and wanted a divorce. On 8 December 1926 the couple quarreled, and Archie Christie left their house, Styles, in Sunningdale, Berkshire, to spend the weekend with his mistress at Godalming, Surrey. That same evening Agatha disappeared from her home, leaving behind a letter for her secretary saying that she was going to Yorkshire. Her disappearance caused an outcry from the public, many of whom were admirers of her novels. Despite a massive manhunt, she was not found for eleven days.

In 1930, Christie married archaeologist Max Mallowan (Sir Max from 1968) after joining him in an archaeological dig. Their marriage was especially happy in the early years and remained so until Christie's death in 1976.

Christie frequently used familiar settings for her stories. Christie's travels with Mallowan contributed background to several of her novels set in the Middle East. Other novels (such as And Then There Were None) were set in and around Torquay, where she was born. Christie's 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express was written in the Hotel Pera Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, the southern terminus of the railway. The hotel maintains Christie's room as a memorial to the author. The Greenway Estate in Devon, acquired by the couple as a summer residence in 1938, is now in the care of the National Trust.

Christie often stayed at Abney Hall in Cheshire, which was owned by her brother-in-law, James Watts. She based at least two of her stories on the hall: the short story The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, and the novel After the Funeral. Abney Hall became Agatha's greatest inspiration for country-house life, with all the servants and grandeur which have been woven into her plots.

To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empir

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Profile Image for Anne.
3,922 reviews69.3k followers
February 9, 2023
Secret Adversary is the first Tommy & Tuppence novel.


I'm not going to claim that it's great, but it was entertaining. And Christie managed to make me think I KNEW who the hell dunnit, only to jerk the rug out from underneath me...again. <--to be fair, that's kind of her thing, you know?


You know what was cute, though? All the snappy dialogue between the not-quite-yet lovebirds. I mean, it's probably not snappy by today's standards, but back in the day, I'm betting this was quite the sassy back and forth.


The story is sort of out there with the wacky let's hire these two young people with ZERO experience to save the government from falling into the hands of EEEEEEEVIL men premise, but the characters are adorable.
I'll definitely read more of their adventures someday.

PS - Inspector Japp gets a cameo mention in this!
Profile Image for James.
Author 19 books3,579 followers
April 7, 2018
I am hosting an Agatha Christie Readathon on my blog in April 2018 where we are reading one of her books each week. The first book up, The Secret Adversary, is the initial entry in the Tommy & Tuppence cozy mystery series she's written. Although I've read a bunch of her novels, I hadn't read anything in this particular series, so I was glad that one of them won the poll to choose our books that I had set up earlier this year.

In this caper, Tommy and Tuppence, ~22 year old somewhat poor residents of London around 1920, are bored enough to form a partnership where they will agree to do anything legal to obtain a salary. Tuppence wants to marry rich. Tommy doesn't care. You kinda know they have to end up together, right? A mysterious man overhears their conversation and asks them for help in finding Jane Finn who disappeared when the Lusitania sank nearly five years earlier. She was given a very important government paper by a pseudo-spy who died in the tragedy, but Jane seems to have lost her memory. No one can find her, but there are several ne'er-to-do-wells and government spies searching for her. Though WW1 is over now, if anyone finds out what was written in the papers, it might just ignite another battle. Tommy & Tuppence take the case, but soon find themselves baffled by all the different stories they hear. When they separate to get more done, each is kidnapped and nearly killed for knowing nothing but really knowing something. Then Jane's American cousin helps with the search and leads are finally flooding in around them. Now the little sleuthing pair are on their own and unable to determine who's telling the truth. Think you can? I actually solved this one.

Christie is remarkable when it comes to creating suspense, intrigue, and drama in her books. Although the story started off a tad peculiar to me, I slowly became fascinated by how different things were nearly 100 years ago. Between the phrases used to describe people, the quick allegiance people swore to one another, and the methods for doing research, it was outstanding. Sometimes I laughed at their silly tactics, others I thought they made no sense. But it was a different time and place, and under those contexts, it actually made perfect sense.

Tommy & Tuppence themselves are also weird. They speak in terms of puzzles, but seem to understand one another. They wish for things they don't need but join forces in a venture that initially makes no sense. I was worried... even thought... did I make a mistake giving this book a chance? But I knew how much people adored them, so I pushed forward and by about 20% in, the book takes on a much more standard mystery and suspense tone.

The ending was very well written. The plot is thorough but leaves a lot to the imagination. Do we really ever find out what's written in the government documents? Do we know exactly who kidnapped each of the sleuths? Do we know whether every character was purely good or evil? Not really... there is a bit of vagueness going on, but it doesn't hurt the story. Readers will more than likely fall in love with the duo, get caught up in determining which is the true bad guy, and grow puzzled in trying to decide which information to trust and which information is just a red herring.

It's fun to read these capers. It's less about the language and more about the approach to solving a crime. So sit back and relax... let the author dazzle you with her story... and let go of the normal constructs you expect in a mystery novel. I'm going with 4 stars on this one, as I'd more than recommend it, but there were some things I felt could have been handled better. That said... I look forward to reading more in the Tommy & Tuppence series, but that will have to wait. Next week's book is from the Hercule Poirot collection. Join us if you can!
Profile Image for رغد فريحات.
116 reviews491 followers
October 20, 2020

العدو السري او العدو الخفي
ثاني رواية ألفتها ملكة البوليسية اجاثا كريستي في عشرينيات القرن الماضي ..


في إطار ممتع ومشوق تظهر لنا اول رواية في سلسلة روايات (تومي وتوبينس) للنور واول رواية تجميع بين هاتين الشخصيتين الشابتين الجامعتين لطيش الشباب والفضول والذكاء

تومي وتوبينس اصدقاء قديمان .. يلتقيان بعد عدة سنين بلا هدف ولا مال , في محاولة لإيجاد طريقة ما او وسيلة لكسب المال منها ولكن بطرق ممتعة .

يتفق الشابين على مشروعهما الجديد المشترك (شركة الشباب المغامرين المحدودة ) للتحريات والتحقيق وتبدأ اول قضية لهما بمحض الصدفة لينجرفا بعدها لقضية مضى عليها 5 سنوات ملوثة بأيادي شيوعية وروسية وأمريكية وبريطانية وبها العديد من الشخصيات والشكوك والأسرار

مهمتهما تكمن في إيجاد مفقودة منذ 5 سنوات تحتوي على اهم الوثائق التي من الممكن ان تؤدي حرب مدمرة إذا كشفت

فهل ينجحان في قضبتهما الأولى؟

لا يخفى ان هذه الرواية رائعة ومسلية على الرغم من كونها ثاني رواية أُلِفت في مسيرة السيدة أجاثا , أحداث مليئة بالتشويق والمتعة مع طابع جريمي بنكهة مضحكة ومرحة ولمسة من الرومانسية

Profile Image for Adrian.
562 reviews197 followers
February 11, 2021
I must admit, I don't think I have ever read a Tommy and Tuppence novel despite reading Agatha Christie's books for 50 years (gosh that sounds scary, where has the time gone ? ). That said I have seen a number of T & T episodes on TV with various combinations of actors/actresses. But even so, I did not remember this story at all.

Both in dire straits financially, they decide given their lack of any other skills, that they should combine and form an adventure company to solve mysteries for other people.
Wondering where to start, they are about to spend money on advertising when Tuppence is approached by a stranger who had overheard her conversation with Tommy, and wishes to offer them a job.
However nothing is ever as it seems, and accepting this task embroils T & T in more than they bargained for: kidnapping, murder, imprisonment, chases all over the country, mysterious French women and gregarious Americans, retired spies and of course the unknown Mr Brown.
A fun romp that has a good story behind it, and of course being Christie, some well developed characters.
I haven't yet checked whether we have in our year long group read any more T&T, if so I look forward to them, if not well, I have every Christie, so will at some point read more.

PS I do not see David Walliams as Tommy, no matter how funny or good an actor he is, sorry, he just isn't Tommy.
Profile Image for Janete on hiatus due health issues.
655 reviews264 followers
July 12, 2021
I've already read many Agatha Christie's books and I like almost everything from her. But this was one of the weakest Agatha's Christie's books that I ever read. But it's okay, this was only the second book that she wrote, and she was not as mature, confident and inspired as a writer.
Profile Image for BrokenTune.
750 reviews202 followers
March 6, 2017
IT was 2 p.m. on the afternoon of May 7, 1915. The Lusitania had been struck by two torpedoes in succession and was sinking rapidly, while the boats were being launched with all possible speed.

This is still one of the most intriguing Agatha Christie opening lines I have read (another can be found in Murder on the Orient Express, but I'll get to that in a different post).

The Secret Adversary is the first adventure of Miss Prudence Cowley and Lieutenant Thomas Beresford, a.k.a. Tommy and Tuppence.
Tommy and Tuppence have known each other since childhood but lost touch over the years with the exception that they met again in 1916, when Tommy was injured in the war and Tuppence worked as an auxiliary nurse. The story sets in as they meet again for the first time since 1916, now in London in 1920. Both are best described as Bright Young Things of their time, both are broke, and both are looking for way to make some money.

I absolutely love the start of this story, the setting and the dialogue between Tommy and Tuppence. It's fresh, it's witty, it's believable.
Christie shines through in every aspect of Tuppence, and, based on descriptions of her own circumstances in Christie's autobiography, I have a hunch that Tommy was somewhat inspired by Christie's then husband Archie.

When thinking about bright young things, I usually first think of Waugh's Vile Bodies. However, what is striking about The Secret Adversary is that it was published in 1922 - a whole 8 years before Vile Bodies!

This is only Christie's 2nd(!) published novel, and yet we get such fun dialogue as this:

"Rot!" said Tommy hastily. "Well, that's my position. I'm just about desperate."
"So am I! I've hung out as long as I could. I've touted round. I've answered advertisements. I've tried every mortal blessed thing. I've screwed and saved and pinched! But it's no good. I shall have to go home!"
"Don't you want to?"
"Of course I don't want to! What's the good of being sentimental? Father's a dear--I'm awfully fond of him--but you've no idea how I worry him! He has that delightful early Victorian view that short skirts and smoking are immoral. You can imagine what a thorn in the flesh I am to him! He just heaved a sigh of relief when the war took me off. You see, there are seven of us at home. It's awful! All housework and mothers' meetings! I have always been the changeling. I don't want to go back, but--oh, Tommy, what else is there to do?"
Tommy shook his head sadly. There was a silence, and then Tuppence burst out: "Money, money, money! I think about money morning, noon and night! I dare say it's mercenary of me, but there it is!"
"Same here," agreed Tommy with feeling.

While I love Tummy and Tuppence, the plot of the story doesn't quite work for me. It's Christie's first attempt at international espionage, and, if you ask me, she should have left it at that. After the two friends discuss an idea to go into business together, the plot snowballs out of control fuelled by the most unlikely of coincidences, and at some point I got confused again (and this was my third re-read!) about who is who and who is bluffing whom.

Mystery-wise, this is not the greatest of stories. However, I'd recommend it just for the sheer fun of getting to know Christie in her early years, before the necessity to make money from writing leads her to develop that famous formula that runs through most of her best known creations.
Profile Image for Piyangie.
519 reviews416 followers
January 30, 2023
The first book of the Tommy & Tuppence series is not a murder-mystery. It is rather a thriller involving secret documents, spies, and secret criminal organizations. I've read many Agatha Christies - more murder mysteries than thrillers - and I've enjoyed her more in her "whodunnits" than in her thrillers. It is the same here. It was fun and entertaining, even humorous, but not quite to the mark of her murder-mysteries; at least it was for me.

Despite my personal preference, it was an interesting story with a good deal of suspense. Tommy and Tuppence, with the help of a few others, race against time to track down and recover an important document, which, if fell into the wrong hands, would compromise the government. The two young "adventurers" find themselves pitted against a fierce and unmerciful criminal organization. But their intelligence, courage, and bravery help them to outsmart the villains and earn their due acclaim. I've read the second book of the series some time back, so it was interesting to learn here how it all began and Tommy and Tuppence came to form their "Young Adventures Ltd". :)

I enjoyed the two books I've read in the series, of course, but I prefer Poirot and Marple to Tommy & Tuppence.
Profile Image for Sandysbookaday is (reluctantly) on hiatus.
1,975 reviews2,042 followers
August 1, 2020
EXCERPT: It was 2 pm on the afternoon of May 7, 1915. The Lusitania had been struck by two torpedoes in succession and was sinking rapidly, while the boats were being launched with all possible speed. The women and children were being lined up awaiting their turn. Some still clung desperately to husbands and fathers; others clutched their children closely to their breasts. One girl stood alone, slightly apart from the rest. She was quite young, not more than eighteen. She did not seem afraid, and her grave, steadfast eyes looked straight ahead.

'I beg your pardon.'

A man's voice beside her made her start and turn. She had noticed the speaker more than once among the first class passengers. There had been a hint of mystery about him which had appealed to her imagination. He spoke to no one. If anyone spoke to him, he was quick to rebuff the overture. Also he had a nervous way of looking over his shoulder with a swift suspicious glance.

She noticed now that he was greatly agitated. There were beads of perspiration on his brow. He was evidently in a state of overmastering fear. And yet he did not strike her as the kind of man who would be afraid to meet death!

'Yes?' Her grave eyes met his inquiringly.

He stood looking at her with a kind of desperate irresolution.

'It must be!' He muttered to himself. 'Yes - it is the only way.' Then aloud he said abruptly, 'You are an American?'


'A patriotic one?'

The girl flushed.

'I guess you've no right to ask such a thing! Of course I am!'

'Don't be offended. You wouldn't be if you knew how much there was at stake. But I've got to trust someone, and it must be a woman.'


'Because of 'women and children first'.' He looked round and lowered his voice. 'I'm carrying papers - vitally important papers. They may make all the difference to the allies in the war. You understand? These papers have got to be saved. They've more chance with you than with me. Will you take them?'

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Tommy and Tuppence, two young people short of money and restless for excitement, embark on a daring business scheme – Young Adventurers Ltd.

Their advertisement says they are ‘willing to do anything, go anywhere’. But their first assignment, for the sinister Mr Whittington, plunges them into more danger than they ever imagined…

MY THOUGHTS: Tommy and Tuppence have never been my favourite Christie characters, but I must admit to having quite enjoyed The Secret Adversary, the first in the series, in which we learn about their backgrounds, and how they came to be sleuths.

The timeline starts not long before WWII, and then jumps to after the end of the war and the quest to find the young woman to whom the vitally important papers were entrusted.

This is rather a good, adventurous romp, and not at all classic Christie. All the same I did quite enjoy trying to figure out just who was the traitor - I was completely wrong! Again. There are Russians, secret meetings with passwords, kidnappings, and murders.

While not my favourite Christie, this was still a more enjoyable read than I expected.


THE AUTHOR: Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE was an English writer known for her sixty-six detective novels and fourteen short story collections, particularly those revolving around fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. (Wikipedia)

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Secret Adversary, written by Agatha Christie, narrated by Andrea Giorgani, and published by A.R.N. Publications via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...
Profile Image for W.
1,185 reviews4 followers
January 15, 2021
It was Agatha Christie's second book and the first one featuring Tommy and Tuppence.Unlike the later books,where they are middle aged and then old,here they are young and not yet married.

It was quite a contrast reading this soon after Postern of Fate,Christie's last book and the last adventure of the old couple,Tommy and Tuppence,in which they remember their young days and the past a great deal.

The action begins with the sinking of the passenger ship,Lusitania,during World War I.As women and children are given priority for the use of life boats,an American man seeks out a lone girl passenger and hands her a document,a secret draft treaty,for safekeeping.

Meanwhile,both Tommy and Tuppence are struggling financially,in post war Britain.To make some money,they place an advertisement in a newspaper as "young adventurers" whose services can be hired to do anything for a fee.

Those who respond to their advertisement,put them on the trail of Jane Finn,the girl from the Lusitania,who has disappeared since leaving the ship.

There is plenty of action,adventure and thrills.Along the way,Tuppence refuses to accept an offer of marriage from an American millionaire,because of her love for Tommy,who is penniless.

On his part,Tommy gets kidnapped but keeps his wits about him,to escape.As she does in several later books,Christie first points the finger at one person as the culprit,and then keeping the element of surprise intact,unmasks a different person as the mysterious Mr.Brown.

These were early days for Christie and she was still only a part time writer,signed by her first publisher on very unfavourable terms.But she could still deliver a cracking good story.
Profile Image for Simona B.
892 reviews2,985 followers
February 23, 2017
“Don't be offended because I think you're young. Youth is a failing only too easily outgrown.”

I am willing to bet anything that Tommy and Tuppence are the two cutest wannabe detectives in the panorama of spy fiction in its entirety.
Yes, spy fiction: I dove into this expecting a crime story, instead espionage was the key word here. There is no denying that I was a little disappointed and more than a little taken aback, but Christie can do no wrong, even when she does do wrong, so, of course, I liked it.

The plot admittedly works with too many pretty coincidences and happy happenstances, so I wouldn't call it a "serious" espionage novel, and it most certainly won't appeal to fans of that genre. I ended up enjoying it nonetheless because, as I said, the main characters are the most adorable creatures to ever walk the earth, and because Agatha still managed to make up for the naivety of the whole thing with a finale that is, after all, not so predictable.

I will obviously read the next novels in the Tommy and Tuppence series, and the collection of short stories too. Plus, (I'm marking it as spoiler, but really now) . I'm sure their banter will be twice as lovely and hilarious.
Profile Image for Fabian.
947 reviews1,565 followers
December 14, 2018
Tommy & Tuppence sittin' in a tree...!

A group of young Adventurers overcome several thrilling events in a tale jam packed with action, a story that deals with secret documents written by secret people that must be stopped by secret people in a very secretive way. The two novices stumble upon this, and their wits (both sexes are seen as equal in their cunning or charm) help them solve the puzzle. Agatha Christie is the equivalent of a warm pot pie on some cold, dreary evening... (aka better than this terrestrial form of hell....)
September 29, 2022
* I take my writing seriously and consider comments the reward. I would rather not have “like button” clicks, until you are accompanying them with remarks for me. *

Agatha Christie pages impress upon you sharply; even someone sampling the queen of mystery as late as I am. I was astonished by the plot intricacy in "The Mysterious Affair At Styles" but had a feeling there were better stories. Immediately, second novel "The Secret Adversary" is a step up. I am drawn to every stage, the settings are far more dynamic, and this time I am responsive to the characters. Many revere this title as the introduction to Tommy & Tuppence but I am entering this experience without knowledge of Agatha and have the pleasure of every discovery coming to me.

The publication year 1922 succeeds World War I. England speaks of tight finances and jobs. Reunited chums Tommy & Tuppence dare to suggest they should advertise willingness to do anything, anywhere for money. They find themselves dangerously but honourably employed by British intelligence! A covert search for an American girl named Jane Finn divvies into three intense directions once they are aided by her wealthy cousin, Julius. The chapters highlight each fast-paced excursion, including a kidnapping of both lead characters; disappearing one after the other in different directions.

What I admire about this novel in particular goes beyond the ampleness of vibrant events that keep the pages turning with intrigue. Originality is noticeable at once, a treat for a frequent reader. We are used to sitcoms and movies in which distressed protagonists avoid police or telling anyone what was afoot, for fear of repercussions, when it was plainly silly not to enlist help. In that cliché, lies are woven but inevitably need to be explained and help needs to be requested anyway. The frankness of all three heroes catches us off-guard and the effect of their boldness is entertaining. Accidentally accurate passwords, quick thinking, and suave language abound!
Profile Image for Nika.
291 reviews109 followers
February 5, 2023
Дуже чекала на переклад пригод Тапенс та Томмі ♥️мені вони дуже милі
Все класично - хоч і читала цю історію років 10 тому, вже все забула 😁
Profile Image for Jaya.
436 reviews222 followers
March 6, 2018
Re read with The Christie Carnage -noobs, middlings & hoity tots

WARNING: My thoughts are going to be scattered all over this review, Why? Because, I suck at reviewing.

Lets begin from the beginning.

So, some of the readers at the Indian Readers decided to read the complete works of Agatha Christie. I, being overly curious and enthusiastic, jumped right into with my fellow readers, despite of having read, re-read, watched, heard (audiobooks and those delicious BBC radio plays) multiple number of times. So the book most voted upon (roughly based on chronology of its publishing) was the Secret Adversary , published in the year 1922 (this was after Mysterious Affair at Styles).

Disclaimer: Prior to this I had never followed any chronology while reading her works. The primary reason was availability. Whatever books were available in the school and local libraries, had to make do with those. But that was almost 15 years back. (Totally useless information.)

Coming back to the book, had I read, The Secret Adversary, some odd 10 years back, this book would have been a winner for me (getting older unfortunately has made me more critical). This book has one of my most favourite tropes- An espionage set during the First World War period . The idea of saving secret documents from the hands of the bad guys during one of my most favourite period of history (should have) got my juices flowing. The story had almost all the elements - secret societies with members having code names, dual identities, chasing and spying sequences, lost memories and of course murder. Despite of the things that should have made this great espionage book, the story went flat for me.
The main characters, Tommy & Tuppence (Two people going to extreme lengths trying too hard for the sake of money and some idea of grand adventure) and Julius Hersheimmer somehow seemed a bit caricaturish to me. Exception perhaps was Sir James Peel Edgerton who made a clever and believable character. The plot too, IMO, was a bit too contrived.

Then mid way, through the book, I recalled the bad guy was :-/ (curse of re-reading). Was languishing at 50%, had to speed up because my co-readers were already done with it (again completely rambling thoughts)

I had started with the intention of giving it at least three stars, chopping off one star now. Was annoyed at times while reading those obvious coincidences and at Tommy’s tomfoolery, the way he would goad his captors.
Here's an incident,

"Good morning", said Tommy amiably. "You have NOT used Pear's soap, I see".
"No light repartee, have you old bean? There, there, we can't always have brains as well as beauty..."

Sorry, I was neither amused nor impressed with his bravado.

Damn! Thats the reason I don’ t like doing reviews.

The Secret Adversary gets only 2.25 stars from me.

Having said that do not go by my verdict, Goodreads is teeming with good reviews. I would recommend it to all mystery/thriller aficionados
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,645 reviews5,107 followers
April 27, 2023
Choose Your Own Adventure!

You are The Adversary and indeed you are full of secrets, including a Secret Identity. Are you the doctor? The detective? The American friend? The spymaster? The barrister? The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker? Who knows! Certainly not your foolish enemies, which include above all the British government and their stiff upper lips. You run circles around these Anglos, they are like children to you. Amusing creatures, these English; you wonder if their upper lips will remain so stiff after you bring down their entire government and make them the world's laughingstock!

You have adversaries of your own: the foolish Tommy and the obstreperous Tuppence. These two amateur sleuths also amuse you. As if they could find you out. As if! Let them try. The only conundrum you face is which of these prats you shall kill first.

If you decide to kill Tuppence first, because it's best to eliminate smart young women before they turn into smart old women, choose https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

If you decide to kill Tommy first, because the world is already too full of mouthy young men who act first and think later, choose https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Profile Image for Ali Mahfoodh.
194 reviews149 followers
November 29, 2020
الرواية الثانية لأغاثا كريستي، والأولى من سلسلة تومي وتوبينس من أصل خمس روايات.

البداية مستمدة من حادثة غرق السفينة البريطانية لويزيانا من قبل الألمان خلال الحرب العالمية الأولى. وبعدها ينتقل المشهد إلى لقاء صديقين مفلسين من ضحايا أزمة البطالة بعد الحرب واتفاقهما للسعي وراء أي عمل ممتع مقابل المال، حتى يأتي العرض الأول ويورطهما بمؤامرة سياسية. على خلاف روايات أغاثا التي عادة ما تكون حول جرائم القتل والتحقيق حولها، هذه الرواية هي مغامرة مليئة بالتجسس والمطاردات ويحيطها الغموض المتمثل بالبحث عن الفتاة المفقودة وبالهوية المجهولة لرأس المؤامرة السيد براون وهذا الجانب الأمتع في الرواية. فوجود شخصية قوية بسمعة إجرامية وهوية لا يعرفها حتى أتباعه أضاف الكثير لمعنى الأحداث والوجود الفعلي للشخصية. السيد براون من أفضل مجرمي أغاثا وأمكرهم. وبعيدًا عن دوامات الشك المتواصلة فالرواية احتوت على جانب رومانسي طفيف بين الشخصيات.

إطار أحداث العدو الخفي يذكرني برواية الأربعة الكبار لكن الأولى أفضل من كل النواحي. وبشكل عام ال��واية مسلية، طريفة، يغلفها الغموض، وملائمة لعصرها بشكل كبير. أعجبني ثنائي تومي وتوبينس وحتمًا سأقرأ بقية مغامراتهم.
Profile Image for Susan.
2,643 reviews598 followers
January 22, 2021
This is Agatha Christie's second ever mystery (after "The Mysterious Affair at Styles") first published in 1922. It is also the first Tommy and Tuppence book and, although Christie is my favourite author of all time, for some reason I hadn't read this series before.

Having finished it, it reminded me a little of the early Campion books. This is not so much a mystery as an adventure. It begins on the Lusitania, when a young woman - Jane Finn - is given some secret papers before getting aboard a lifeboat (lifeboats weren't very successful on the Lusitania, which sank very quickly, but let's not get caught up in historical details!).

We then go on to 1919 and young Thomas Beresford and Prudence Cowley meet up in London - both broke and unemployed. Retreating for tea and cakes, they decide upon a plan to become Young Adventurers and take on exciting work. Before long, they are caught up in the mystery of Jane Finn, who has gone missing with the secret papers, putting England in danger.

This book has virtually everything thrown at it - secret meetings, lost memories, virtually everyone kept prisoner at some point or another, the Secret Service, vampish, beautiful - and dangerous - women, American millionaires and more. It is good fun and, although I prefer a straight mystery to all the running around and secret gangs (I am more Poirot than Campion) I will certainly be reading the rest of the Tommy and Tuppence books.
Profile Image for Laura.
126 reviews34 followers
December 28, 2008
A short and entertaining read-- entertaining as much for its mystery as for the laughable sensationalism of its topic. Very timely for 1922-- all about bolsheviks and revolutions and Labour Party members and secret treaties, with a hero and heroine full of jolly upper-class Britishness and levity, if not imagination, in tough spots. Very characteristic of an era.

The mystery, though constructed out of sensationalistic and dated elements, has an excellent form. We are told quite frankly in the first few chapters that we will meet the Bad Guy before we know that he IS the Bad Guy-- and then we spend the rest of the book trying to figure out which of the characters he is. Very good, in that regard. Also, as in all good Christie, everyone's got their fingers in the pot somehow-- she manages to keep each character's critical discoveries secret from us until the end-- but even though we're lagging far behind most of the characters, we don't feel stupid because we, as the readers, have our own theories that we don't necessarily want to be spoiled.

A very very short one. Read it in an afternoon for a good laugh.
Profile Image for Louie the Mustache Matos.
952 reviews67 followers
September 13, 2022
The Secret Adversary is the second book published by Agatha Christie way back in 1922. It was her first with the characters Thomas Beresford and Tuppence Cowley. (Their stories later became the Tommy and Tuppence Mysteries, but sadly there were only five of those.) The novel involves two young people who have known each other since their childhood, who are looking for work just after WWI. During a catch-up lunch they decide to go into business together as “adventurers.” They get hired by the government to do some independent espionage. At that point is where the plot gets a bit dodgy. Would the British government hire untrained and inexperienced operatives for a mission which supposedly holds such extreme significance that it holds England’s post-war financial recovery in the balance? There are several nonsensical threads to the story that are just as illogical, but there is a real chemistry between Tommy and Tuppence that is enhanced by their incessant banter. The audiobook added an extra dimension that I found stimulating. The quick quips back and forth made it overt from the very beginning that these would be fun characters.
Profile Image for Vikas Singh.
Author 4 books277 followers
August 5, 2019
Tommy and Tuppence adventures are best enjoyed only after you have read Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot’s adventures. Only then you can marvel at the creative genius of Agatha Christie and the fun she would have had creating Tommy and Tuppence. The secret adversary is a fast paced thriller involving the world of espionage and once you have started, you just cannot put it down. Added to this is the excellent chemistry between the two amateur detectives. Thoroughly enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Mara.
1,562 reviews3,774 followers
July 5, 2020
I wonder if I would have enjoyed this one more if I had read it earlier in my Christie journey? As it is, this was perfectly fine as a Christie thriller, but it didn't really stand out to me and, as it was only her second book, the Christie prose style that I love wasn't fully there
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,864 reviews371 followers
November 14, 2020
2020 Re-read:

This was a very fun re-read. How different it is from Christie's first novel, although it was entertaining to see Inspector Japp show up very briefly during the proceedings. I became aware that Hercules Poirot and Tommy & Tuppence exist in the same environment.

You'd think that I would remember the ending since I only read it two years ago, but no dice. There were plenty of other details that stuck in my mind however. I loved the banter between the main characters and the breakneck pace of unlikely events. After all, Tommy and Tuppence are rank amateurs in the spy game, but they turn up more information while flailing around as beginners than the professional spooks have been able to come up with.

Highly entertaining. I'll look forward to more adventures of this dynamic duo. My initial rating holds up.


***2018 Summer of Spies***

I had great fun reading this, the second of Dame Agatha’s books to be published. It is refreshing for its lack of a plot formula, like those developed during her career and well established by books like Hallowe'en Party. It is also unusual in its featuring of a couple in the starring roles, Tommy & Tuppence. Plus it incorporates a relatively recent event, the sinking of the Luisitania (1915), The Secret Adversary being published in 1922. I was really struck, however, by the plight of the young people after WWI :

"Rot!" said Tommy hastily. "Well, that's my position. I'm just about desperate."
"So am I! I've hung out as long as I could. I've touted round. I've answered advertisements. I've tried every mortal blessed thing. I've screwed and saved and pinched! But it's no good. I shall have to go home!"

Maybe because I live in a town where the economy has been dominated by the (now slumping) petroleum trade for decades and I have also been perusing resumés for a new position in our department. It’s rather sad to see young people bravely putting their best foot forward and knowing that there are much more experienced candidates available.

Of course it’s very unrealistic for two young amateurs to fare so well against the Secret Adversary, but it’s more fun than realism would have been. Tuppence, especially, seems to embody the spirit & brains that so many of Christie’s female characters exhibit, giving a hint of what is to come. It was just what I was looking for in a summer read—a rather fluffy & fun adventure.

I also liked the author’s dedication: “To all those who lead monotonous lives in the hope that they may experience at second hand the delights and dangers of adventure.” I think she could have dedicated a great many of her books this way.

Cross posted at my blog:

Profile Image for Brenda.
4,109 reviews2,666 followers
September 10, 2018
When Tommy and Tuppence were discussing money, and their lack of it, they decided on a daring scheme in which to make money quickly. Young Adventurers Ltd immediately put a notice in the London Times advertising their willingness to embark on anything – which probably wasn’t too sensible.

Their contact sent them to search for an elusive young woman who had been connected to the sinking of the RMS Lusitania by a German torpedo during the war – but the danger they would face made young Tommy and Tuppence realise it wasn’t all a game.

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie is the first in the Tommy & Tuppence series and I quite enjoyed it. Fun and entertaining with plenty of unforeseeable twists, I have no hesitation in recommending it to fans of both Agatha Christie and the genre.
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,012 reviews1,332 followers
December 6, 2022
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Support me

“Never tell all you know—not even to the person you know best.”

My ritual of reading one Christie novel per month is still going and this time, I decided to read one of her earlier works. In fact, this is her second novel and it follows Tommy and Tuppence and not the usual Poirot or Miss Marple and unfortunately I wasn’t a big fan.

This book was written in 1922 which is exactly a century ago. I thought I did not enjoy it very much because it is one of her earlier works and she was still discovering her voice as an author but I loved her first ever novel (The Mysterious Affair at Styles) so it is not for that sole reason.

Writing wise, I think the prose is not bad, I never have problems with Christie’s prose and I am usually left in awe by how “modern” the voice is. But the problem with this one was that it is more of a spy novel with thriller elements rather than the classical mystery and whodunit genres. The rest of Christie’s stories that I read were more simple and this one was unnecessarily convoluted.

Finally, I accepted the fact that not any of Christie’s characters will come close to Poirot. He’s just on a whole different level and remains one of my favorite characters in literature. Miss Marple is sneaky and can be entertaining although she’s usually absent for the most of her books. Tommy and Tuppence are a nice couple and they’re weird and unique and I love that but just because it lacked the mystery part, I couldn’t see their brilliance and maybe I will in their next adventure.

Summary: This story ended up disappointing me. It could be due to my usually high expectations of Agatha, it could be due to the fact that it is only her second novel or because of the thriller rather than mystery parts. I hope their next entry convinces me to read more of their adventures.
Profile Image for Juli.
1,879 reviews474 followers
May 22, 2019
Agatha Christie has been my favorite author since I was 9 and spent a summer break from school reading Hercule Poirot novels. I decided to revisit her books yet again...in publication order. The Secret Adversary, Christie's second novel, was published in 1922. It introduces Tommy & Tuppence, two characters that would go on to star in three more novels and a short story collection. The final Tommy & Tuppence novel, Postern of Fate, was the last book Agatha Christie wrote before her death, but not the last one published.

In this first story, Tommy and Tuppence are still single (they married each other later) and trying to find employment after the end of World War I. Both are running out of money and getting a bit desperate, but they don't want to tie themselves to boring, run-of-the-mill jobs following all the excitement of the war era. They decide to form a partnership, The Young Adventurers, Ltd, and advertise for unusual jobs just to keep their lives interesting. Before they even place their first advertisement, they get an offer for employment......and end up over their heads in a case of missing persons, international espionage, and murderous, sneaky villains. They yearned for excitement -- and they got it!

I listened to the audio book version of this story (Dreamscape Media) and had the best time. The story is a bit dated after almost 100 years, but that's what made it an enjoyable listen. I had to smile each time Tuppence called someone "Old Bean.'' I loved all the 1920s lingo and social commentary about women not wanting to return to a quiet life after the war. Tommy and Tuppence are wonderful, young characters starting out in life in the years between the wars. They want excitement and security in a world that has irrevocably changed. Makes for a very enjoyable listening experience.

The Dreamscape audio book is narrated by Emma Fenney and runs just over 8 1/2 hours. Fenney has a pleasant voice and reads at a nice pace. She does a great job voicing all the different characters.

All in all, a fun listening experience! I am having the best time re-visiting Christie's books. She's been my favorite author for 41 years for a reason! On to her 3rd book -- Murder on the Links. Hercule Poirot!
Profile Image for Bettie.
9,989 reviews14 followers
August 9, 2015
Description: After WW1, childhood pals Tommy Beresford and "Tuppence" Prudence Cowley lack money and prospects and become adventurers for the British Government. Rich American Julius P. Hersheimmer, powerful Mr Whittington, and an evil mastermind's conspiracy all seek Jane Finn who was given papers vital to peace by an agent at the sinking of the Luisitania.

Oooo -stop the press, this is a 2015 TV series starring Jessica Raine and David Walliams: 'Is she like this at home?'




Opening: IT was 2 p.m. on the afternoon of May 7, 1915. The Lusitania had been struck by two torpedoes in succession and was sinking rapidly, while the boats were being launched with all possible speed. The women and children were being lined up awaiting their turn. Some still clung desperately to husbands and fathers; others clutched their children closely to their breasts. One girl stood alone, slightly apart from the rest. She was quite young, not more than eighteen. She did not seem afraid, and her grave, steadfast eyes looked straight ahead.
Profile Image for Bill.
908 reviews161 followers
April 9, 2017
Although I've read a huge amount of Agatha Christie stories I've always avoided the four Tommy & Tuppence adventures as they never looked very appealing to me. I have to admit that this, their first adventure, was not as bad as I was expecting. Yes, I did get fed up with the amount of times that they referred to someone as "old bean" & it was a bit light & fluffy for my tastes.
On the other hand the plot zips along quite nicely & there's plenty going on. I really love The Saint stories by Leslie Charteris, which began publication at almost the same time as this one. Both are fairly light & easy reads, but somehow the adventures of Simon Templar seem a far better series of yarns to this humble reader.
Profile Image for Vimal Thiagarajan.
131 reviews78 followers
June 17, 2016
Not the usual Christie mystery. This is a John Buchan style ripping yarn with light-weight espionage and a heavy emphasis on adventure.Initially I found the plot so light on logic and the situations so uncharacteristically contrived and co-incidence driven that it made me look back at the cover to confirm if I was reading a Christie or a Wodehouse. But it picked up gradually and then ended in a massive flourish. The mystery component, though not entirely unpredictable, was handled quite adeptly as usual. But what I liked most about the book was how well fleshed out most of the characters were. Only Christie would be able to put me wise on how every other dialogue from the hustling Hersheimmer cracked me up. An extra-star just for those crafty dialogues. A cool read.
Profile Image for Katie Lumsden.
Author 1 book2,822 followers
April 21, 2019
Another great fun Agatha Christie! I really enjoyed this one, and would highly recommend it. More of an adventure mystery than a murder mystery, with wonderful characters and a fun plot. I'm definitely going to be reading more of the Tommy and Tuppence series in the future.
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