Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie (1929)

The second outing of Tommy and Tuppence Beresford has them running a detective agency - but it's a ruse; the government wants them to also be on the lookout for one of the nefarious interational rings of conspiracy that Christie was so fond of in her earlier years as a writer - a writing trend that probably culminated with James Bond, and was deflated by Austin Powers.  This is a book of short stories, connected by this premise, but in which Tommy and Tuppence solve some actual mysteries.  The book is pretty weak - let's be honest, Nancy Drew would have felt right at home in some of these stories -  but is (once again!) saved from doom by Tommy and Tuppence, who are bright young detectives, funny, frank, and (seemingly?) modern (for 1929 at least).  Tommy decides that in each story he will take on the persona of some well known - at least in 1929 - fictional detective.  I only recognized two - Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown - although the types he portrays were all very familiar.    Still, that's one of the problems with this book - it would have been far better, I think, if I had the same familiarity with the fictional detectives as I imagine the readers of 1929 did.  Dame Agatha throws in several knowing and cute nods to Hercule Poirot though - some Poirot French, some little grey cells.  She can be a humorous writer; one of the tales - "The Case of the Missing Lady" is particularly funny - dare I say farcical without giving too much away?

(I was going to annotate this, but most of my annotations had to do with the various fictional detectives mentioned in the stories, and upon starting to do research, quickly discovered Wikipedia had a page that did this already).

Partners in Crime (Tommy and Tuppence #2)Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Let's be completely honest - these are mostly Nancy Drew-worthy mysteries with bright young Mitford-esque The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family detectives at the helm.  None of the stories are among Christie's strongest.   The best thing about the book is definitely Tommy and Tuppence, and Christie's witty dialogue she gives them again and again.  The literary conceit of the book, in which each story is a homage to or parody of a famous fictional detective of time period was probably quite engaging in 1929; being unfamiliar with most of the detectives made it more challenging in 2015. That said, she gently makes fun of her own detective, Hercule Poirot, as well as her own book, The Big Four, which was cute.  If you are reading Agatha Christie for the first time, don't start here.

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