The awesome Jay Cudney is hosting an Agatha Christie Readathon! The plan is simple. We have a week to read one of Christie’s fabulous novels and we post a review at the end of the week.
My approach to this Readathon
I am new to Agatha Christie, and I am also embarrassed to admit that! She is such a well known author, yet I have waited 5 decades to read her classic mysteries. What make this admission even worse for me, is that this is my favorite literary genre! When Jay launched this readathon, I saw it as an opportunity to right a horrible wrong in my life (too bad Jay can’t fix all of those!😢 )
These stories have been discussed, reviewed, studied and examined by minds far greater than mine. You can find many a brilliant, detailed and thorough review in numerous places. So, rather than focus on the storyline, I would like to take some time to discuss my thoughts on each of the novels. I suppose this is my chance to have a book club discussion without the actual book club meeting. Dang, I will miss the wine and cookies 🍷 🍪 !
The Secret Adversary
Tommy and Tuppence series (book 1)
Rating: 4/5 stars
Tommy and Tuppence are good friends, down on their luck and flat broke when we first meet them. With World War I over, and difficult economic prospects, they are having a tough time finding employment in London. So much so that Tuppence proposes they form their own business, The Young Adventurers, LTD. They place an ad in the local paper stating that they “will do anything, go anywhere”, as long as the price is right! When they receive two replies they believe their luck has changed for the better.
Tuppence is impetuous, confident and fearless as she meets with Mr. Whittington to negotiate their first paid engagement. She was unwilling to give her real name to a stranger and quickly pulls a name from her subconscious. However, in doing so, she accidentally provides the name of an actual person who is at the center of a international investigation. Now she and Tommy have to find the real woman, secure important foreign documents and discover the identity of a criminal mastermind!
I am still new to Agatha Christie and this is only the second of her novels that I have had the privilege of reading. My first was “Murder on the Orient Express”, which I read only a couple months ago, mainly because I wanted to see how it compared to the movie version. I am so impressed by her ability to create suspense and mystery, working with so little of what mystery writers enjoy today.
Present readers expect high tech crime scene analysis, technology not available to Ms. Christie. She has to weave a tale based solely on character interaction and subtle clues. There is no “in your face”moment. No phone records, emails or videos to discover.
I am also struck by the political incorrectness of the time! Ms. Christie’s sleuths often make deductions based on personal biases and prejudices. To rule out a suspect because he is French or English and to include one because he is German, is astounding to me. But then again, this is where those ingrained prejudices came from, right? I really shouldn’t be surprised.
Tuppence has to fight to be included, at times, because she is a female, so obviously “the weaker sex”. Yet Christie writes her as strong young woman, the fact that Tuppence has to overcome male chauvinism and does so successfully, seems to indicate that Christie is more than just aware of a woman’s role at this time. She too has to work against those societal boundaries, making her accomplishments even more impressive. I wonder what she would make of the #metoo movement.
Although Christie created this strong female, there was still a whole lot of proposing going on! Was marriage really that coveted at this time? Or, is Christie adding in what would be considered gratuitous “sex” scenes, such as they were back then? Many writers of today can’t help but toss in a one night stand or erotic scene, as the heroes are being chased by the bad guys, just to keep the readers interested.
Both Tommy and Tuppence are young, which probably works in their favor as those around them assume they are incapable of putting the clues together to uncover the truth. Tommy is the sensible, thoughtful and analytical foil to Tuppence’s “act first think second” persona. They make an excellent team. Those that underestimated the duo, however, later were impressed at their doggedness and determination to see their role to the end.
I was excited to learn that this is a series and I hope to return to it when we complete the other books on our list. I am glad there will be more adventurers for these two!
Thank you Jay, for hosting this challenge!