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The Secret Adversary

Narrated by: Hugh Fraser
Series: Tommy & Tuppence, Book 1
Length: 7 hrs and 38 mins
5 out of 5 stars (12 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Tommy and Tuppence 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.
© Agatha Christie Mallowan 1951, 2004 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, London UK

Critic Reviews

"Refreshingly original." ( Times Literary Supplement)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I love this book!!

Another brilliant Christie creation masterfully performed by Hugh Fraser. Tuppence and Tommy are charming, witty and exciting

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  • Anniebligh
  • 01-08-2012

Set shortly after the end of WW1

A Christie adventure mystery, that gives a two young unemployed people a chance to earn an honest income and... well I will let you find out.
It is a lovely take on Buchin's '39 steps' and maybe 'The Thin Man'. The humour is very much in Christie style.
I enjoyed listening to this as read by Hugh Fraser and will listen again.

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  • Sheryl Mason
  • 15-05-2014

A nice thriller with delightful detectives

Would you listen to The Secret Adversary again? Why?

I'd definitely listen to this again. I first read the book many years ago and to have it on audible just makes it that much easier to read again. I very often re-read books and this one is easy on the ear and fun to listen to.

What did you like best about this story?

I like Tommy and Tuppence, I like the way they think. Tommy is the "tortoise", a slow but methodical thinker who nonetheless makes good deductions. Tuppence is the "hare", her bouncy personality can be a bit frivolous as a thinker but her ideas are good. They match perfectly.

Which character – as performed by Hugh Fraser – was your favourite?

It's hard to single out just one, Hugh Fraser did a good job on all the characters. The accents are done well too.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

This is the first Tommy and Tuppence book by Agatha Christie. A lot of people will find it dated but as this is one of the periods of crime I love best, I would not hesitate to recommend it. I just don't like the modern crime novels at all so I'm always on the lookout for classic crime. I did guess the answer (or did my subconscious remember it?) about three quarters of the way through the book but this didn't stop my enjoyment of the whole plot.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Maggie
  • 14-09-2015

Another time, another way of life

Any additional comments?

This, the first Tommy and Tuppence book, is definitely 'of it's time', which I think is often a polite way of saying 'dated'. Yes, of course the speech and attitudes aren't those of today, but they are great fun if you immerse yourself into this brilliant pairing, the more diffident Great War ex-officer, Tommy and the vibrant tackle anything ex-VAD and vicarage daughter, Tuppence.

I love these Tommy and Tuppence books, always have, particularly the preposterous plots and coincidences. There was not the slightest need to rewrite the story the way the recent rather dire television series did. Far better to sit back and let the wonderfully mellifluous voice of Hugh Fraser take you through Agatha Christie's unabridged original.

In some ways these are a bit like Famous Five stories for grown ups, as the rather naive but dashing and far from stupid two save the world from dastardly spy rings but reward themselves with dinner at The Ritz rather than with tinned salmon, pineapple and lashings of ginger beer.

Relax, put your feet up and prepare to be transported to another time - it's spiffing stuff!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Kevin Viney
  • 24-01-2015

Gripping and chilling

Although some characters are a little unbelievable the plot rattles along. Typical Christie keeping you guessing all the way.
Mr Brown is every where and yet remains elusive.
Definitely worth a read

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Red Tomato
  • 07-04-2013

Quite good

Excellent narration. The plot is good although I guessed "who did it" part early in the book, which spoilt it a bit.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • FictionFan
  • 22-05-2019

Reds under the bed...

As the passengers on the Lusitania scramble for safety before she sinks, a man approaches Jane Finn. Pressing a package into her hands, he tells her that it’s of vital importance to the war effort that the contents are passed to the American authorities, and asks her to take it since women and children will be evacuated first, making her more likely to survive than him.

Some years later, the war is over and two young friends meeting by accident on a London street go to a tea room to talk over old times and new. Tommy Beresford has been demobbed from the army, while Prudence “Tuppence” Cowley is back in London now her services as a war nurse are no longer required. Neither has had much success in finding jobs, so half-joking, half-serious, they come up with an idea to form a joint venture – to advertise themselves as The Young Adventurers willing to take on any job offered...

But a man in the tea room has overheard them talk and, before they can place the ad, he approaches Tuppence with a job offer. Soon the two young people will find themselves embroiled in an adventure full of mysterious crooks, Bolshevik revolutionaries, missing girls, American millionaires, secret treaties and British Intelligence. And the brooding evil presence of the sinister Mr Brown, the criminal mastermind who is behind the plot – a man no-one seems to know by sight but whom all fear by reputation...

My cats are called Tommy and Tuppence, so that will give you some idea of how much I love this pair of detectives. Christie didn’t write many T&T books, but each has its own charm, especially since, unlike Poirot and Miss Marple, Tommy and Tuppence age in real time, so that we see them develop from youth to old age over roughly the same period as Christie herself did. The Secret Adversary is the first, and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable romp.

Reading it now, nearly a century later, some aspects of it are unintentionally amusing, like dear Ms Christie’s obvious mistrust of Labour politicians, belief in the good old right-wing establishment, and a fear of those terrible socialists so great it would almost qualify her to apply for American citizenship! But this was during the Red terror following the Russian Revolution – the book was published in 1922 and there is much talk in it of a possible general strike which the socialists hope to orchestrate in order to start a British revolution. Four years later in the real world, the General Strike of 1926 didn’t quite do that, but it came close for a while, and was only broken by the middle classes volunteering to do the essential work of the strikers. My point is that the plot seems a bit silly now, but wouldn’t have back then – Christie was reflecting the legitimate fears of conservative Middle England.

Le Carré it’s not, however. Underneath all the spy stuff, there’s an excellent whodunit mystery, plotted as misleadingly as any of her later books. It’s decades since I last read this and the joy of having a terrible memory is that I couldn’t remember who the baddie was, and I loved how Christie led me around, suspecting first this person, then that one, then back again. Yes, at one point I suspected the right person, but purely by accident, and I’d moved on to the wrong person before the big reveal!

The major enjoyment of the book, though, comes from the delightful characterisation of the two main characters, and their budding romance – a romance the reader is well aware of long before the two participants catch on! Tommy is a typical British hero of the time, strong, rather stolid and unimaginative, but patriotic and decent, determined and resourceful. Tuppence is so much fun – headstrong and courageous, she works on intuition and instinct, and is one of the new breed of modern girls who are more likely to bat the bad guy over the head with a jug than swoon helplessly into the hero’s arms. She’s the driving force in The Young Adventurers while Tommy is the stabilising influence, and they’re a wonderful partnership. Lots of humour in their banter with one another keeps the tone light even when the plot darkens.

I listened to Hugh Fraser narrating the audiobook and, as always, he does a great job. He gets the chance to “do” an American millionaire and a Russian spy along with all the British characters, and has a lot of fun with the somewhat stereotyped characterisation Christie gives of them. All-in-all, pure pleasure either as a read or a listen – highly recommended! My cats recommend it too...

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-03-2019

Comic book

The story is like a Famous Five for adults and far too long .Hugh Fraser is by far the best thing in this audible book.

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  • Jane DM
  • 05-03-2019

Couldn't stop listening!

I know the story but had forgotten the detail. Love the audio version and the narrator.

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  • Mike T.
  • 29-12-2018

Christie YA cozy...?

First half of the book has a distinct YA feel to it. An not a very good one at that. The admittedly likable protagonists act naively in the extreme. Suspension of disbelief is needed. Or to quote a line in the book -"It reads like a dime novel".

Second half is better. More like Agatha Christie's usual writing. (I've read a LOT of her books). Red herrings galore and a nice whodunnit / "Who is Mr Brown" mystery.

This was only Christie's second book, so I suppose allowances must be given. Still - I'm sad to say I did not like this book.

Narration however is stellar. Hugh Fraser is great.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-10-2018

bfillianf story

fabulous cliff hanger hugh Fraser at his best superb could imagine all the djffefent ischaracters

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  • Mary Carnegie
  • 06-01-2018

Light adventure story

Russian money is being splashed about to influence the political situation in an English speaking Western country. THAT could never happen in the 21st century, could it? No one would give that idea a moment’s credence, would they? And what is the involvement of an American millionaire?
We’re far too sophisticated now for such a tall tale!
Bring back Tommy and Tuppence...