I read this book out of two rather joyless motives: researching the Whodunit genre and the Second Novel. Another reason for reading was more whimsical: having seen plenty of Agatha Christie on screen, I'd never actually sat down and finished one of her tomes. And sit down I did, getting through the book's 200 oddish pages in two longish sessions. It was very readable, not particularly challenging, sometimes charming and occasionally annoying. In other words, it did what it said it would do on the box.
The characters Tommy and Tuppence are young, amiable almost-rogues who set out - circa 1919 - looking for remunerative adventure. Quickly, they get themselves embroiled in a plot, à la Zinoviev letter, to use the Labour movement to bring down the government. It's written from a mildly reactionary viewpoint, which mildly outrages me. The plot is far fetched and inevitably (for the genre) convoluted, but managed well enough and by changes of location, character and tone kept this jaded reader turning the page.
Let's see now, what's it got? Mystery a-plenty (if a-wishy-washy), crooked spies, red herrings, double-dealers, guns'n'poisons, the very prototype of the young assistant, romance, hard-boiled dialogue, hostage-taking, country houses, a millionaire with money to burn. No bumbling police, though; a shoot-out but no corpses; London scenes, but no pea-souper. I suppose you can't have everything.
Tommy and Tuppence, a couple whose first outing this is, were Christie's least commercially successful sleuths. I wonder if there isn't something too self-satisfied about a romantic couple's working together to make superstars of them like Miss Marple and Poirot? Perhaps one of these erotica hacks should take them on, insert bedroom scenes every ten pages and make a million dollars? Heck, it's outta copyright...