Nancy McKibben's Reviews > Postern of Fate

Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie
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Postern of Fate
By Agatha Christie

I thought I had read most of Agatha Christie’s work, but an article about a BBC series planned for 2014 to celebrate Christie’s 125th birthday alerted me to Tommy and Tuppence, the married sleuths of four novels and a book of short stories. The books were not that easy to locate, and I ended up first reading The Secret Adversary, the first book, published in 1922, followed by Postern of Fate (dreadful title!), the last book in the series, published in 1973. Tommy and Tuppence are in their twenties in the first book and in their seventies in the last book, so it was an odd way to go about the series. Nevertheless . . .

In Postern of Fate, Tommy and Tuppence have retired to a country house to live a peaceful, country life. But as Tuppence is pottering around (there is a lot of pottering in this book), paging through old children’s books left behind in the house, she discovers a message written by a twelve-year-old boy in code (which she quickly decrypts): Mary Jordan did not die naturally. It was one of us. I think I know which one.

But the message is years old, dating back to World War I days, so even if it is true, it can’t possibly hold any significance for the England of today - or can it? Neither Tommy nor Tuppence can stifle their curiosity, so Tuppence questions the old villagers whose parents might have known Mary Jordan and Tommy goes round to his old friends in London, most of whom have retired, but still seem to know what is going on, to establish the identity of Mary Jordan - and, of course, it turns out that the old murder does have modern day significance.

Enough about the plot, since this is a mystery. I liked Tommy and Tuppence as spirited pensioners, rather more than I liked them as bright young things in the first book, which was mostly dialogue. And of course, Christie’s writing improved in the fifty years between the writing of the first and last novels. However, the writing of her last books, and this was one of them, suffered due to the author's onset of dementia, which explains the fuzzy plot line.

These are not Christie’s finest works (although N or M? the third book, is more in Christie’s usual vein), but Tommy and Tuppence are appealing characters, and the series is worth reading if you are a Christie fan. And try to read them in order, as Postern of Fate made constant reference to the couple’s exploits in N or M?, giving away the plot of that novel a bit.

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Reading Progress

April 2, 2014 – Started Reading
April 3, 2014 – Finished Reading
April 25, 2014 – Shelved
April 25, 2014 – Shelved as: mystery
April 25, 2014 – Shelved as: reviewed

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