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Book Title: The Secret Adversary|
The author of the book: Agatha Christie
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 14.89 MB
City - Country: No data
Date of issue: January 1st 2001
ISBN 13: 9780451201201
Loaded: 1314 times
Reader ratings: 4.9
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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.
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Read information about the authorAgatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan.
Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote eighty crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and several other books. Her books have sold roughly four billion copies and have been translated into 45 languages. She is the creator of the two most enduring figures in crime literature-Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple-and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.
Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in Torquay, Devon, England, U.K., as the youngest of three. 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.
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.
On Christmas Eve 1914 Agatha married Archibald Christie, an aviator in the Royal Flying Corps. The couple had one daughter, Rosalind Hicks. They divorced in 1928, two years after Christie discovered her husband was having an affair.
Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, came out in 1920. During this 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. In 1977, Mallowan married his longtime associate, Barbara Parker.
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, which is in the story collection of the same name, and the novel After the Funeral. "Abney became Agatha's greatest inspiration for country-house life, with all the servants and grandeur which have been woven into her plots.
During the Second World War, Christie worked in the pharmacy at University College Hospital of University College, London, where she acquired a knowledge of poisons that she put to good use in her post-war crime novels.
To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours. The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club. In the 1971 New Year Honours she was promoted Dame Commande
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