N or M?

Rating: ***
Tommy and Tuppence, the indomitable detectives, are back again in their third mystery (I count Partners in Crime, a series of short stories, as their second). Now middle-aged, they have two grown up children and must get used to the idea of not being needed. With the second war, things become harder as they remember their time in The Secret Adversary set in WWI.

But as fate would have it, Mr. Carter finds a job for them - a top secret job, involving great risk, and on which the whole future of England rests! (melodrama, I know) The words of a dying man lead Tommy and Tuppence to Sans Souci, a boarding house near the seaside, where they are certain the top agents of the German government are hiding out. Known only as N or M, they must discover their secret identities before an attack on English soil....

Definitely not my favorite Tommy and Tuppence novel. Unfortunately, the later novels of these two likable characters get worse. N or M? is followed by By the Pricking of My Thumbs and Postern of Fate, both of which feature the couple in old age in uninteresting stories. N or M? like many of Christie's 'detectiveless' novels, is full of surprise happenings and accidental discoveries. While not as bad as Why Didn't They Ask Evans?, a lot of the discoveries in the book are not intended by Tommy and Tuppence, and so reflect poorly on their intelligence. N is discovered absolutely by chance, and M's identity is uncovered by a chance utterance that seems a bit too forced! Also, I find there is a lot of stereotyping in Christie's novels: the bad tempered Prussian officer bullying his subordinates, the rebel Irish girl, the angry German with something to hide....The only person I liked was Betty, the adorable toddler who is loved by everyone in the boarding house - she reminds me of my niece!

1 comment:

Kerrie said...

I was fascinated by the fact that T&T got trotted out again. I don't really like them as characters either. They are a bit "wet." Thanks for contributing to the Carnival this way.