The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

This is classic pulp fiction but it’s a light, enjoyable read. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek yet paying homage to all the spy stories that came before it but there’s nothing ground breaking about it.

It’s very different to what we’ve come to expect of Christie. An espionage set just after WWI, it plays on the political and racial tensions between Britain and its perceived enemies. With the benefit of hindsight we know this obviously didn’t happen but if we remove this variable, the story was very realistic for that time period.

The story is intensely plot driven, as it’s a case of “And then this happens, and then that happened, and it looks like this has happened, but actually that has happened instead”. Luckily, the story has a fast enough pace that you can just lose yourself in it which is what good pulp fiction should do.

The protagonists themselves, whilst interesting, were relatively interchangeable. Nothing really stood out about them and therefore, there was nothing memorable about them, as they got swept up in the story. However, they performed their function of being well developed enough that when they solved the political conspiracy, it was believable enough.

You can still see the Agatha Christie stamp throughout the story, in particular, the way she drops hints about who the mysterious Mr Brown is. It’s almost as if she’s still working out how she should plan her crimes but doesn’t have the experience to flesh it out.

I’ve been sitting on this review for a while now since I’m not really sure what to write. I think it’s because that although it was a fun read, there was nothing memorable about it. There’s nothing strenuous about this story since it doesn’t do anything new with the traditional spy archetypes but it doesn’t abuse it.



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