Book Review: The Secret Adversary

May 16, 2017

The Scret Adversary cover

I hope you all are having a good week, even if is just the
usual monotony of every day life.

Things have been going fairly well, even though I am still
in a tight spot right now, and I am just glad that I can still do something
that I can enjoy.

Recently, I looked through Project Gutenberg's catalog and
decided to try out a title featuring a pair of detectives that I have not heard
of, mainly because their names are not as big as Sherlock and Gosho Aoyama has
not mentioned them in any of the 90 or so volumes of Detective Conan in
existence, according to page on
[[dcw:Main_Page | Detective Conan
World's wiki]].

Today, I will be reviewing that title, which is called The Secret Adversary by Agatha
Christie.

The World War has ended and everyone is getting back to
their normal lives, though some are having a hard time finding work, and, to
deal with the situation two lifelong friends, Thomas Beresford and Prudence
Cowley, decide to start a joint venture and run an ad to get some business.

However, when a man comes to Prudence with an offer that
seemed too good to be true and refuses, the two friends become entangled is a
missing person's case that may hold the fate of England in the balance, as mysterious,
yet powerful man is also chasing after this missing person.

As many of you guys are aware, I am fairly familiar with
Agatha Christie's work and have been singing praises of her in a lot of my
reviews, but I was not too sure that I would want to try something that I never
heard of before, since there have been one or two books from her that have
disappointed me.

Fortunately, after reading this, I must say that I really
enjoyed this book.

From the moment that I opened up this book and started reading,
I did not want to put it down for any reason, though I do have to satisfy the
same needs everyone else needs to deal with.

Over the course of my time going through Agatha Christie's
works, such as And Then There Were None, The A. B. C. Murders, and A
Pocket Full of Rye
, Agatha Christie has done a great job of pulling me into
the world of her characters and has usually been good at delivering what I
expect to see from work in the detective, mystery, and crime fiction genres,
particularly the whodunnits that is comprised by the bulk of Sherlock and
Poirot stories out there, and seeing that she was able to pull this off here
was very impressive to me.

Yes, I know that Agatha Christie is known as the Queen of Crime for a reason, and I do think that she deserves the moniker, but, even
though she is still fairly well-known, even after her death, this was only the
second book that she ever penned in her entire writing career, with the first
being The Mysterious Affair at
Styles
, and this is quite an accomplishment.

It may be normal for people that have been writing for a
while to be able to draw in readers rather quickly, but seeing as she was able
to pull me into the world of her work in both The Mysterious Affair at
Styles
, though that book ultimately disappointed me, and this book, it does
not surprise me that Agatha Christie is still such a big name today, because
she has shown that she has been a very promising writer even back when she got
started, and it makes me glad that not all of the famous writers out there are
not people that are not actually that great, even if I know that Agatha
Christie, like many other writers, got worse over some time.

Fiction, one of the only true parent genres of literature,
is supposed to help the consumer escape reality for a short moment, and if a
writer cannot do that, regardless of whether the work is science fiction,
fantasy, detective fiction, crime fiction, mystery, or any other genre of
fiction, they will not be able to create something that truly deserves to be
called a classic, even if it meets all the other requirements that so called experts
say that classics have.

In the case of this book, Agatha Christie shows that she
definitely understands that much, just like Maurice Leblanc and many of the
other great writers who have lived and died knew what good story needed, and it
makes me want to give her a major round of applause.

I also liked how the pair of detectives started off as
complete amateurs.

While both Tommy and Tuppence, the names that Thomas and
Prudence are generally called, are just as observant as Sherlock and Poirot,
and fairly knowledgeable, they still come off as fairly unique because it is
evident that they have not had any real experience with cases, much like many
fans of the detective, mystery, and crime fiction genres, whereas Sherlock
supposedly encountered numerous cases before coming into contact with Watson and
Hercule Poirot himself seems to have a lot of experience under his belt in The
Mysterious Affair at Styles
.

According to a page on Project Gutenberg, detectives in crime
fiction are supposed to range from amateur sleuths to professional sleuths, yet
many of the famous detectives of fiction come closer to the high end of what
could be considered an amateur to professional, as they come off a perfect in their
capabilities.

Here, however, Tommy and Tuppence do come across as
amateurish in the way they do things, especially since they do not even know
the basics of gathering intel properly, and, in the case of Tommy, act without
any backup plans, and it made me interested in seeing how far these two will progress,
even though they are not Agatha Christie's most well-known characters.

We might have many amateur sleuths in fiction today, such as
Jimmy Kudo from Detective Conan, Touma Sou from Q.E.D., Shinra Sakaki
from C.M.B., and the Scooby Doo gang, but I do not recall too many amateur
sleuths from the time that Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle were alive,
though that is because it is impossible for me to read every book ever written
and I have not taken the chance to check out Edgar Allan Poe's Dupin yet, not
mention that many characters, like A.J. Raffles, became lost in the sea of time
and were forgotten by society, and that makes me want to give Agatha Christie
some applause for experimenting a bit.

If writers tried to experiment more often today, things
would be feeling like less of a rehash or a rip off than they do now, and I
would not be as dissatisfied with popular works as I am.

Unfortunately, much like Hollywood and other creative
fields, people are too afraid to try and put a spin on things that truly feels
unique, even if it is not actually original, so until that time where people realize
how important experimentation is, I do not think that fictional works in any
medium will actually be able to be called truly great.

Nice job, Agatha.

Another thing that I really liked was how I was misled quite
a bit.

While I was not as misled as I was in A Pocket Full of
Rye
and Cards
on the Table
, I feel like Agatha Christie really improved herself in this
book.

Back when I read The Mysterious Affair at Styles, one
of the things that I truly hated about reading was how my first guess turned
out to be correct and that really disappointed me, since that is not what I, or
any other fan of the detective, mystery, and crime fiction genres like to see.
Fans of those those genres want to be tricked via red herrings and other
methods, as they try to determine what is important and what is not, but when
the person's first guess turn out to be correct, that excitement becomes
nonexistent and the book becomes fairly disappointing.

Here, however, even though Agatha Christie has not found her
place yet, I am starting to see the Agatha Christie I knew from And Then
Were None
and her other well-known novels.

Throughout the course of the book, I was aware that Mr.
Brown was close by, as he knew what Tommy and Tuppence were doing, but there
were quite a few things that made me not suspect who Mr. Brown truly was, and
only a few small hints towards it being that actual person.

By handling things like this, Agatha Christie was able to
confuse me, as I expected to be, right up until. The end.

This is why these kinds of stories are so great, because
people who know of all or most of 'the tricks of the genres can still be fooled,
and that confusion ends making the story that much better, whereas confusing
the reader in other genres is not something to be proud about.

If Gosho Aoyama had the hints of Okiya's true identity be as
subtle as this, instead of having all of those blatant hints in volume
60
of Detective Conan, the enjoyment of the whole mystery of whether
Akai was alive or not would have been as great as I remembered it to be prior
to rereading those chapters, and would have dramatically improved the events of
the Bourbon arc.

Unfortunately, Gosho Aoyama did not understand the
importance of having only small hints and it ruined the whole mystery, so
hopefully Gosho has learned this lesson and will not make again in the Rum and
Boss arcs.

Of course, because Agatha Christie understand the importance
only having small, unnoticeable hint, I can only applaud her job well done,
even more so, considering that this was only second book, and writers planning
to enter the field of detective, mystery, and crime fiction should take note of
what she has done her.

The thing that I liked the most though was how I got the
feelings that I expect to get from only thrillers.

Now, Agatha Christie is not generally known for thrillers,'
like John Grisham is known for legal thrillers, as everyone today is familiar
with her moniker, but she was able to give me feelings of suspense, excitement,
surprise, anticipation, and anxiety, which had me on the edge seat while
reading the book.

Some people may be wondering how this is even possible,
since Agatha Christie is known more for her works in the detective, mystery,
and crime fiction genres, but according the biographical section of
the official website of Agatha
Christie, she did quite a bit of experimenting with her work while she was
alive, so I am not too surprised about seeing something like this from her,
though I was kind of surprised while I read the book, and that experimenting
paid off with this book, even if Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple ended up overshadowing
Tommy and Tuppence.

I am not too sure about you guys, but I am definitely seeing
why the works of Agatha Christie still seem to be selling fairly today, and it
makes me happy to see great writers get the attention they deserve, especially
after death.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else
that I particularly like, at least any that cannot be added to what I already
talked about.

Because my attention was captured quickly and held for the
duration of the book, the detective pair actually seemed like amateurs just
starting out, and that I was misled more than in her first book, as well as the
fact that Agatha Christie gave me feelings that I did not expect, this book was
one of the best that I have read.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things too minor to talk about, nothing
really bothered me too much.

As a result, I will have to say that there is nothing worth
mentioning.

Considering that there was quite a bit to like and nothing
majorly wrong, especially since this was only Agatha Christie's second book,
this was definitely worth reading.

I recommend this to fans of detective, mystery, and crime
fiction, as well as thrillers, because this book delivers the things that all
four groups would want to see in a story.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, as
it can serve as a good introduction to detective, mystery, and crime fiction,
or even thrillers, and it is more enjoyable than the first book that Agatha
Christie wrote.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, buy this book or any of the other book using the
Amazon links provided in this review or support me on Patreon, so that I can find
more worthwhile reads for you guys, and do whatever you do when you find
something that impresses you.

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