EXCERPT: It was 2 pm on the afternoon of May 7, 1915. The Lusitania had been struck by two torpedoes in succession and was sinking rapidly, while the boats were being launched with all possible speed. The women and children were being lined up awaiting their turn. Some still clung desperately to husbands and fathers; others clutched their children closely to their breasts. One girl stood alone, slightly apart from the rest. She was quite young, not more than eighteen. She did not seem afraid, and her grave, steadfast eyes looked straight ahead.
‘I beg your pardon.’
A man’s voice beside her made her start and turn. She had noticed the speaker more than once among the first class passengers. There had been a hint of mystery about him which had appealed to her imagination. He spoke to no one. If anyone spoke to him, he was quick to rebuff the overture. Also he had a nervous way of looking over his shoulder with a swift suspicious glance.
She noticed now that he was greatly agitated. There were beads of perspiration on his brow. He was evidently in a state of overmastering fear. And yet he did not strike her as the kind of man who would be afraid to meet death!
‘Yes?’ Her grave eyes met his inquiringly.
He stood looking at her with a kind of desperate irresolution.
‘It must be!’ He muttered to himself. ‘Yes – it is the only way.’ Then aloud he said abruptly, ‘You are an American?’
‘A patriotic one?’
The girl flushed.
‘I guess you’ve no right to ask such a thing! Of course I am!’
‘Don’t be offended. You wouldn’t be if you knew how much there was at stake. But I’ve got to trust someone, and it must be a woman.’
‘Because of ‘women and children first’.’ He looked round and lowered his voice. ‘I’m carrying papers – vitally important papers. They may make all the difference to the allies in the war. You understand? These papers have got to be saved. They’ve more chance with you than with me. Will you take them?’
ABOUT THIS BOOK: 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…
MY THOUGHTS: Tommy and Tuppence have never been my favourite Christie characters, but I must admit to having quite enjoyed The Secret Adversary, the first in the series, in which we learn about their backgrounds, and how they came to be sleuths.
The timeline starts not long before WWII, and then jumps to after the end of the war and the quest to find the young woman to whom the vitally important papers were entrusted.
This is rather a good, adventurous romp, and not at all classic Christie. All the same I did quite enjoy trying to figure out just who was the traitor – I was completely wrong! Again. There are Russians, secret meetings with passwords, kidnappings, and murders.
While not my favourite Christie, this was still a more enjoyable read than I expected.
THE AUTHOR: Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE was an English writer known for her sixty-six detective novels and fourteen short story collections, particularly those revolving around fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. (Wikipedia)
DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Secret Adversary, written by Agatha Christie, narrated by Andrea Giorgani, and published by A.R.N. Publications via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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