The Secret Adversary

  • Tommy & Tuppence
  • Novel
  • 1922

Tommy and Tuppence, two young people short of money and restless for excitement, 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.

Never tell all you know - not even to the person you know best.

Sir James Peel Edgerton, The Secret Adversary

More about this story

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 domination (see Janet Morgan's biography).

Refreshingly original.
Times Literary Supplement

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. In 2015 it was adapted and broadcast on BBC One in Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime starring David Walliams as Tommy and Jessica Raine as Tuppence.

Did you know?

  1. The four novels and one short story collection featuring detective duo Tommy and Tuppence, spanned the length of Agatha Christie's writing career.

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