Partners in Crime (by Agatha Christie)

I wanted something reasonably light, but different from the contemporary women’s fiction novel I had just completed. An Agatha Christie seemed ideal. I have a large collection, some of which I have never previously read, and ‘Partners in Crime’ was the one sitting on my to-be-read shelf.

This turns out to be a series of short stories linked by what we would now call a ‘story arc’. In the first chapter we meet a young, fairly well-off couple called Tommy and Tuppence. Agatha Christie doesn’t usually go in for characterisation, focussing more on clever plotting. But in Tuppence she created a likeable, outgoing young woman with a great deal of both courage and ambition. In the first chapter we meet her expressing how much she enjoys her comfortable life; yet she finds herself bored.

A visitor from Scotland Yard soon changes that. He tells them about a detective agency which was an undercover rendez-vous for a nefarious gang; we don’t learn a great deal about what the gang did, but it doesn’t much matter. The person running the agency, we learn, has been arrested but the police would like to round up some of the other members of the gang. So they propose that Tommy and Tuppence take over, and give them some code words and phrases to look out for.

There are then a series of incidents, each one taking just one or two chapters. Various clients arrive at the offices with mysterious events or problems to solve. And, despite no experience in this field at all, Tommy and Tuppence manage to sort everything out. They read crime fiction avidly, and put themselves into the roles of famous detectives, from Sherlock Holmes through to Agatha Christie’s own most famous detective Hercule Poirot.

I very much enjoyed this book. Some of the crimes are quite light-weight, and there’s plenty of light-hearted badinage between Tommy and Tuppence, who are clearly devoted to each other. It’s easy to forget the reason they’re manning the agency; however in the last chapters, things become more serious and there’s quite an exciting finale to the book.

While Agatha Christie crime fiction doesn’t always make good bedtime reading, this one was ideal. Recommended to anyone who enjoys this genre. Some of the detective references went over my head - I was not familiar with them all - but it didn’t matter at all.

Review by copyright 2017 Sue's Book Reviews

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