N is for N or M

This is part of the Alphabet of Crime Fiction series. Big thanks to Kerrie for doing the leg work. You can show your appreciation by heading on over to Mysteries in Paradise and either signing up or cheering everyone on.

N is for N or M

I took the easy road this week and settled for another Christie. This one, unlike Murder in the Mews, is a full length novel. Let’s start with the basics. First published in 1941, N or M is the third installment in the series featuring Christie’s other other detective(s) (The first two being Poirot and Ms. Marple of course) – Tommy and Tuppence Beresford. In N or M, we meet an older, mature Tommy and Tuppence but with their zeal for life undiminished. In fact that they are bemoaning the distinct lack of adventure in their lives when Mr. Grant from Intelligence comes calling. He has come to recruit Tommy for a dangerous assignment to uncover the identity of two ruthless German spies who are hiding out in the Hotel Sans Souci in Leahampton. Tommy accepts the assignment with alacrity but is cautioned by Mr. Grant to tell nothing of the matter to Tuppence since this is a dangerous job. Tommy pretends to head out for a paper-pushing job in Scotland but turns around and heads to Leahmpton and takes a room in the Sans Souci where he is promptly introduced to Mrs. Blenkensop who is Tuppence in disguise. That’s all the spoilers I’m giving out but rest assured that through the rest of the book our intrepid detectives investigate, plot, trap, get trapped and, finally, uncover the spy, and save merry ol’ England.

Moving on to more subjective things, like many people I started out as a fan of Poirot. Ms. Marple was ok too. I merely tolerated the rest, including Tommy and Tuppence. You could say I only read Poirot and Ms. Marple for a while. Fast forward all these years and I now have a better appreciation for rest of the Christie canon, the T & T series foremost among them. I think these books really do showcase Christie as a novelist, not just another formulaic mystery writer. She brings these characters to life. One can relate to Tommy or Tuppence while aspiring to be the other. And I really do like the fact that the series reflects the actual passage of time where T & T start out as youngsters in The Secret Adversary and end up in their seventies in Postern of Fate.

Trivia that might interest only me:

  1. There are only two Christie books that start with N, the other being Nemesis.
  2. I could not find Leahampton on the map. Google suggested Leckhampton which not quite on the coast. Anyone know if Leahampton is a real place?

15 responses »

  1. Margot Kinberg

    Peter – One of the things I like best about this novel is the way Christie depicts that Beresfords’ characters and their love for each other. I also like the very clever way in which the keys to the spy’s identity are hidden. Yes indeed the Beresfords don’t get the press perhaps that Poirot and Miss Marple do, but they are terrific characters.

  2. Isn’t it the book with code solving? One of the first Christie mysteries I read that got me hooked to mysteries genre.

  3. I must get round to reading this – it’s been sat on my bookshelves for far too long!

  4. Thanks for this Peter. I have also added it to the current Agatha Christie Blog Carnival http://acrccarnival.blogspot.com.au/

    • I have been resisting signing up for that but it looks like I may just have to. 🙂 Thanks for adding it over there.

  5. I’ve never read a T and T book but I’ll look out for this one. I’ve seen some which were made for TV with a very stylish art deco young Tuppence, worth watching just for the fashions. As Christie often used Devon as a setting I would guess that Leahampton would be a small coastal place there, renamed.

    • You know, I never even thought about T. V. adaptations. I’ve only seen the David Suchet Poirot productions. I’ll have to see if I can find a T & T. Thanks for the tip on it being a place near Devon. I never considered that the place names are made up. I always assumed she picked a place she knew.

  6. I’ve only read one Tommy and Tuppence story and it was years ago. I will have to give them another shot soon!

    • Peggy, I’ve really grown to appreciate T & T especially the banter between them which Christie portrays very nicely.

  7. I remember enjoying the Tommy and Tuppence series when I read them years ago, and I have books in that series that I want to reread. This one sounds very good. But I do want to read them in order.


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