The Secret Adversary

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Tracking down Jane Finn proves great fun and not a little dangerous for The Young Adventurers Ltd. Tommy and Tuppence's first novel.

"A whirl of thrilling adventures"

Times Literary Supplement, 1922


About this story

First released

August 1921 (serialised in The Times, UK)

Genre

  • Espionage, 
  • Thriller

Formats

  • Novel, 
  • TV, 
  • Graphic Novel, 
  • Film

Recurring characters

  • Tommy and Tuppence

Murder methods

Setting

  • London

From a retired Belgian detective to a young duo down on their luck and in search of adventure - Christie's second novel was a very different offering to The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

Inspired after overhearing a conversation in a cafe in which two women were discussing a lady called Jane Fish (a name which struck Christie as most ‘entertaining’), the novel introduced not only Tommy and Tuppence but also two themes which were to figure in much of her work. The first was a type of knowledge, a secret or item that needed to be found. The second was ...

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From a retired Belgian detective to a young duo down on their luck and in search of adventure - Christie's second novel was a very different offering to The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

Inspired after overhearing a conversation in a cafe in which two women were discussing a lady called Jane Fish (a name which struck Christie as most ‘entertaining’), the novel introduced not only Tommy and Tuppence but also two themes which were to figure in much of her work. The first was a type of knowledge, a secret or item that needed to be found. The second was the identification of a powerful person, man or woman, who was in search of world dominantion (see Janet Morgan's biography).

Originally titled The Joyful Venture, the name changed to The Young Adventurers before finally becoming The Secret Adversary. The woman’s name that inspired Agatha Christie would also change, from Jane Fish, to Jane Finn. It is one of only two novels in which the dedication is addressed to the reader: "To all those who lead monotonous lives in the hope that they experience at second hand the delights and dangers of adventure".

Published by the Bodley Head in 1922, it became Christie's first novel (and second story) to be made into a film; Fox Film in Germany adapted it under the title Die Abenteuer G.m.b.H.  It was adapted in the UK in 1985 by London Weekend Television and starred Francesca Annis and James Warwick as Tommy and Tuppence, who would go on to star in the series Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime. The graphic novel adaptation was first published in French under the title Mr Brown in 2003.

"Miss Christie has a clever prattling style that shifts easily into amusing dialogue and so aids the pleasure of the reader as he tears along with Tommy and Tuppence on the trail of the mysterious Mr. Brown."

The New York Times Book Review, 1922



More about Tommy and Tuppence

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Find out more about Agatha Christie's amateur sleuths, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, the stories they've starred in and the actors who've played them.

More on Tommy and Tuppence

Christie reading list

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Download our checklist of all the stories Agatha Christie wrote. Have you read them all?

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