Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie

I have completely fallen behind with the monthly reads for the 2019 Read Christie challenge. I started to read this one in July, when we were challenged to read a Tommy and Tuppence book, but with one thing and another I didn’t get very far with it and ended up reading most of it last weekend. I’ll have to catch up with the August and September books at a later date.

Anyway, having already read Christie’s first Tommy and Tuppence book, The Secret Adversary, a few years ago, I decided to continue to work through the series in order and read Partners in Crime next. First published in 1929, this book is set about six years after the previous one and Tommy and Tuppence are now a happily married couple. Not too happily, though…Tuppence is getting bored and longing for adventure. As luck would have it, at this point their old friend Mr Carter, who works in government intelligence, arrives with a proposition that will provide all the adventure anyone could wish for.

Mr Theodore Blunt of Blunt’s International Detective Agency is under arrest for spying and Mr Carter wants Tommy and Tuppence to take over the running of the agency, with Tommy posing as Mr Blunt. This will allow them to intercept any more enemy messages and letters that are sent to the office – especially those written on blue paper and bearing a Russian stamp – and in the meantime, they can take on cases and investigate crimes. Joined by their young assistant, Albert, whom we met in The Secret Adversary, they rename themselves ‘Blunt’s Brilliant Detectives’ and then sit back and wait for their first case to begin…

What follows is a series of short stories, each dealing with a separate investigation, loosely linked by the spying storyline in the background. With cases of missing women, stolen jewels, suspected forgeries, poisoned chocolates and buried treasure to solve – and, of course, several murderers to identify – Tommy and Tuppence have more than enough to keep themselves busy, but to entertain themselves further they decide to investigate each crime in the style of one of their favourite fictional detectives. This is where my own knowledge of early 20th century crime fiction let me down as with the exceptions of Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Baroness Orczy’s Old Man in the Corner, I was unfamiliar with most of the detectives being parodied. It didn’t really matter – the stories can still be enjoyed and understood anyway, but I did feel as though I was missing something at times.

Some of the plots are stronger than others; there was one story in particular (The Unbreakable Alibi) where I guessed the solution immediately and was surprised that it took Tommy and Tuppence so long to work it out! All of the stories are fun to read, though, which is partly due to the characters of Tommy and Tuppence themselves; there’s certainly never a dull moment when they are around! My only disappointment is that there are only another three books in this series to read. I am looking forward to the next one, N or M?, but first I’m hoping I might be able to squeeze in this month’s Read Christie selection, Five Little Pigs, before the end of September.

19 thoughts on “Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie

  1. Rachel B. says:

    I predict you will like N or M quite a lot; I always have. While there are occasional clunkers, I ascribe those to the passage of quite a lot of time since the book was written, and do not blame Dame Christie much for them. This is my favorite of the Tommy and Tuppence novels, with a rather happy ending, all things considered. I look forward to reading your opinion!

    • Helen says:

      I’ve been reading Christie’s other books as I come across them and not in any particular order, but knowing that Tommy and Tuppence age over the course of the series I thought it would be a good idea to start from the beginning. 🙂

  2. www.rosesintherainmemoir.wordpress.com says:

    Oh, I miss Tommy and Tuppence. What a pair! Years ago, PBS ran a series of “Mystery Theatre” featuring these two up to shenanigans as they pursued their “partnership in crime” (the name of one of the novels, I recall). Of course, the film series was sort of a period drama with cars and clothes from the 1920s-1930s.

  3. Lark says:

    I really enjoyed The Secret Adversary, but haven’t read any of Christie’s other Tommy and Tuppence mysteries. One of my reading goals next year should be to read more Agatha Christie. There’s certainly a lot of books by her that I haven’t read yet to choose from. 😀

    • Helen says:

      I still have a lot of her books to read for the first time too. She wrote so many of them! If you enjoyed The Secret Adversary, I think you will enjoy catching up with Tommy and Tuppence again in this book. 🙂

  4. Alyson Woodhouse says:

    I love Agatha Christie, but for some reason, I never quite clicked with the T& T books. It is years since I read them, so I might give them another go sometime. I hope you enjoy the Five Little Pigs if you get round to it, as it is one of my favorite Poirot mysteries.

    • Helen says:

      The Tommy and Tuppence books never sounded very appealing to me, but now that I’ve given them a try I’m really enjoying them. I’m glad you like Five Little Pigs – I will definitely be reading it, if not this month then as soon as I can get round to it.

  5. Jo says:

    I have yet to read this one, might be a good choice if they are short stories to dip in and out of.

    Five Little Pigs is very cleverly constructed and one of my favourite Christies. Though I did have to go back to my list and check I had read it and not got confused with the TV version!

    • Helen says:

      The stories are loosely connected but perfect for dipping in and out of. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. You’re the second person here to say that Five Little Pigs is one of your favourites, so I’ll definitely try to read that one soon!

  6. FictionFan says:

    My Tommy & Tuppence (the cats) will be pleased to hear you’re enjoying their namesakes’ adventures! I love the early T&T books – they’re so much fun. The later ones are good too, but a little darker and written perhaps when Christie had passed her peak. But the relationship between the two of them is as enjoyable as ever.

    • Helen says:

      The relationship between Tommy and Tuppence has been the highlight of the two books I’ve read so far, so I’m pleased to hear it’s just as enjoyable in the later ones!

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