Publisher: Dodd Mead, 1941
As many of you know, I’m reading Agatha Christie’s novels from beginning to end. I’ve finally reached the books she published in the 1940s. To my surprise, N or M? features Tommy and Tuppence, a couple that haven’t appeared since the 1920s.
Twenty years ago they were young people just recovering from ravages of World War I. They married, solved crimes together, and went on to have a happy family life. Now, twenty years later, its 1940 and the war in England has begun. Both Tommy and Tuppence would like to be doing something, but aren’t allowed. They say Tommy is too old and that Tuppence is, well, a woman. Even though they once worked for British Intelligence, they are kept on the sidelines.
Finally, Tommy is asked to go undercover at a west coast hotel. British Intelligence wants him to figure out who in the area is actually working for German intelligence – the fifth column. Tommy is not allowed to bring Tuppence. He can’t even tell her where he is going or any of the other details.
Tuppence is not about to be left out. She very cleverly figures it out and actually gets to the hotel before Tommy does. Both of them are pretending to be someone else and, of course, cannot let on that they know each other. The hotel has some interesting people staying there. Some of them could possibly be spies. There are some locals who seem pretty suspicious as well.
Tommy and Tuppence do what they do best which is to observe the actions of people and figure out what doesn’t fit. They’re very good at people watching. They never believe people are who or what they say they are – except for a couple of times, which almost got Tommy killed.
The puzzle to be solved was a good one for a mystery reader. There were clues along the way, but unfortunately I ignored them. I had a hunch about who N was, but I completely missed the person who was M. Each of the two main characters were in some very dangerous situations. They lived, but it will be another 27 years before Ms. Christie brings them back for another adventure.
N or M? was different from most of Ms. Christie’s other novels. It was a nice change. I liked that it featured England during World War II. I also liked that it was mostly light-hearted. There was genuine humor in there, even if it was somewhat understated. I recommend you read this novel for a nice change of pace.
It has been five years since I first started this challenge. N or M? is the 33rd novel I’ve read. I’ve also read 7 of her short story collections. That means I’m almost at the half-way point! I’ve decided to change my goal and read just the novels. Since there are 66 novels, my status is now 33/66 – still only half-way there. I hope it doesn’t take me another five years to finish my goal, but if it does, that’s okay. I have already read most of these books at an earlier time in my life. I enjoy them so much that it’s not a chore for me. Thanks for staying with me while I read and tell you about the books.