Reading Lists

The Complete Tommy and Tuppence Reading List

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To celebrate 100 years since the release of The Secret Adversary, we take a closer look at the detective due Tommy and Tuppence, who begin their adventures in this 1922 Agatha Christie novel. They are a brilliant double-act, with Tuppence’s curiosity and daring matched by Tommy’s caution and common sense. These are adventure stories, featuring criminal gangs, undercover intelligence, espionage, and jeopardy, with plenty of danger thrown in too. This pair are unique for Christie, as they are her only detectives that age in real time.

The Secret Adversary [1922]

A chance London encounter reunites Tommy and Tuppence, two childhood friends, who are both down on their luck after World War I. Determined to make some money, they settle on the idea of a detective agency, with little idea of what is in store for them. Before long, they are on the case of some missing papers, at the bequest of British Intelligence. Running separate surveillance roles to get to the bottom of the mysterious Jane Finn, and the even more elusive Mr Brown, Tommy and Tuppence must join forces with some unlikely allies and risk the dangers of deceiving others.

Two young adventurers for hire. Willing to do anything, go anywhere. Pay must be good. No unreasonable offer refused.
Agatha Christie, The Secret Adversary

Partners in Crime [1929]

It is six years into the couple’s married life, and Tuppence is craving a bit of adventure. Luckily for them, Mr Carter needs someone to keep an eye on a detective agency! The couple are to look out for a cryptic message underneath a stamp, but they are at liberty to do some crime-solving whilst they wait. There are plenty of cases across the short story collection, ranging from stolen pearls to missing loved ones, counterfeit bank notes to outlandish murders.

Did you know? Each of these short stories contain subtle parodies of a contemporary crime writer [or character] from the Golden Age of detective stories. How many can you spot?

N or M? [1941]

The only war story Christie published during World War II which examines the period, this third outing for the Beresford’s is a truly engaging read. Both of the detectives are disappointed and dejected by how little they can do for the war effort, not for want of trying! But it is Tommy’s distance from British Intelligence which makes him a prize candidate to investigate the cryptic deathbed message: “N or M. Song Susie.” Sent to a seaside town to investigate, Tuppence is unwilling to be left at home alone, so she employs her skills to track her husband, and his mission, down.

Did you know? The name of one of Agatha Christie’s characters in the story prompted an investigation from MI5. For more information on this, and on Christie’s other wartime writing, tune into Shedunnit Show episode: Agatha Writes Alone.

By the Pricking of My Thumbs [1968]

Although now considered ‘old’ by fellow society, this novel opens with the couple considering the sad fate of Tommy’s elderly Aunt Ada… now residing in an equipped facility named Sunny Ridge. Neither Beresford is particularly looking forward to the trip, but duty bound, they arrive to find Ada in a disagreeable mood. Banished to the communal lounge, Tuppence meets a troubled Mrs Lancaster with a secret to tell. Just weeks later, Tommy’s aunt has died, and a mysterious pronouncement is still troubling Tuppence…

Postern of Fate [1973]

Now retired, and in their twilight years, Tommy and Tuppence have relocated to the restful resort of Hollowquay. Although advanced in age, they can’t resist the temptation to do some snooping when a curious message is found in a book belonging to their library’s previous owner. The penultimate story Agatha Christie had published before her death, it seems fitting to learn that the couple are still captivated by mystery, and its trappings.

I never know what you’re up to, Tuppence, but I know the look in your eye when you are up to something.
Agatha Christie , Postern of Fate

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