Thursday, January 30, 2014

Agatha Christie Challenge Review - Tommy and Tuppence

I finished the last book of Christie's Tommy and Tuppence series with a sigh of relief last night.  This series is her shortest spanning over her entire writing career.  It's probably also her least known.  Sometimes I discover little known books or authors and wonder why they're not better known.  Not the case with this one.  Two are good and the rest are just okay.  I'd probably only recommend these to the serious Christie fan and they'd already know about them.

The Secret Adversary (1922)
This is Christie's second book and the book where we meet Tommy and Tuppence for the first time.  It begins as the childhood friends run into each other on the street in London.  Both are looking for work after World War 1.  He is a decommissioned solider and she a former nurse/driver.  They're bored, they're broke and they decide to go into business together.  Soon they're swept up in espionage,  criminal masterminds, and American millionaires.  It's definitely not her best but it's a fun adventure story and would be a great one to introduce Christie to younger readers.  It's also free on Kindle right now.  4 Stars

Partners in Crime (1929)
It's been 6 years since we last saw Tommy and Tuppence.  They're now happily married.  Tommy has an office job and Tuppence is trying her hand at being the perfect housewife.  They are given the opportunity to run a private investigator's office while looking for spies.  This sets into motion a series of connected short stories.  They try to reenact the methods of a classic detective in each chapter.  I'd heard of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot and that's about it.  This book didn't age particularly well and is probably best left to Christie fans.  3 Stars

N or M? (1941)
Tommy and Tuppence are now middle aged and frustrated with their inability to find a way to help at the start of World War 2.  Luckily their espionage past comes back to help them out and they are sent to a boarding house on the coast to sniff out a spy.  This is a solid mystery set in wartime England.  The struggle Tommy and Tuppence have to find their place in this war after being so involved in the last one is interesting and not something I've ever really thought about.  There are some classic red herrings and misdirections.  This one's good but a little slow.  3 Stars.

By the Pricking of My Thumbs (1968)
This book mostly features Tuppence with Tommy coming in towards the end.  The main problem with this one is that it is coincidence piled onto coincidence.  Tommy and Tuppence visit Tommy's elderly aunt who happens to send Tuppence out of the room who happens to sit next to another elderly woman who happens to say something disturbing who happens to give Tommy's aunt a picture and disappear which happens to be of a house that Tuppence has seen which happens to lead to a mystery which happens to connect back to the disturbing comment.  The mystery itself is interesting with a good Christie twist and is entertaining if you can get past all of the coincidences.  Under no circumstances should anyone watch the movie which is on AmazonPrime.  It has Miss Marple in it which I thought would could be a good thing but it was very very bad.  I'm okay with some changes of plot if the story stays true to the character but this one made Tuppence a drunk and their marriage strained.  It also made the mystery even weaker.  3 Stars.

Postern of Fate (1973)
This is the last novel Christie wrote so I try to cut it some slack but unfortunately I lost count of the number of times I said "Wait, What??" and gave up trying to go back and figure something out.  If I had to describe this book in one word that word would be Confused.  The mystery, the plot, the characters, the time line and myself as the reader were all confused.  I've read this three times and each time I keep hoping it will make sense but it never does.  Tommy and Tuppence move into a home when the retire and find evidence of a murder that occurred sometime in the house's past.  Sometimes it seems like the murder took place around World War 1 and sometimes they're talking about it taking place in someone's Grandmother's time which would be around 1840.  I still haven't figured out why Tuppence riding a toy horse and cart down a hill makes sense or who exactly was trying to kill them in present day.  If I wasn't trying to read all the Christie's in 1 year I wouldn't have finished this one.  1 Star.

After the confusion of Postern of Fate and the astounding number of coincidences in By the Pricking of My Thumbs I'm looking forward to starting a new series.  Next up will be her Stand Alone books starting with the 1920s.


  1. I am not sure if I have ever read Agatha Christie before. I used to own a bunch of her books, but a friend was a huge fan so I gave them to him... And never really pursued her again!

    1. She's one of my favorites but I adore the whole British mystery genre. If you do decide to give her a try I do not recommend this group! Or anything she wrote in the late 60s/early 70s.