The Secret Adversary
Agatha Christie
Novels
9:01 h
Level 5
The Secret Adversary is the second published detective fiction novel by British writer Agatha Christie, first published in January 1922 in the United Kingdom by The Bodley Head. In the Prologue, a man quietly gives important papers to a young American woman, as she is more likely to survive the sinking of RMS Lusitania in May 1915. The book introduces the characters of Tommy and Tuppence who feature in three other Christie novels and one collection of short stories; the five Tommy and Tuppence books span Agatha Christie's writing career. In 1919 London, demobilised soldier Tommy Beresford meets war volunteer Prudence "Tuppence" Cowley. They are both out of work and money. They form "The Young Adventurers, Ltd". Mr Whittington follows Tuppence to offer her work. She uses the alias "Jane Finn", which shocks Whittington. He gives her £50 and then disappears. Curious, they advertise for information regarding Jane Finn.

The Secret Adversary

by
Agatha Christie


TO ALL THOSE WHO LEAD
MONOTONOUS LIVES
IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE
AT SECOND HAND
THE DELIGHTS AND DANGERS OF
ADVENTURE


Prologue

It was 2 p.m. on the afternoon of May 7, 1915. The Lusitania had been struck by two torpedoes in succession and was sinking rapidly, while the boats were being launched with all possible speed. The women and children were being lined up awaiting their turn. Some still clung desperately to husbands and fathers; others clutched their children closely to their breasts. One girl stood alone, slightly apart from the rest. She was quite young, not more than eighteen. She did not seem afraid, and her grave, steadfast eyes looked straight ahead.

“I beg your pardon.”

A man’s voice beside her made her start and turn. She had noticed the speaker more than once amongst the first-class passengers. There had been a hint of mystery about him which had appealed to her imagination. He spoke to no one. If anyone spoke to him he was quick to rebuff the overture. Also he had a nervous way of looking over his shoulder with a swift, suspicious glance.

She noticed now that he was greatly agitated. There were beads of perspiration on his brow. He was evidently in a state of overmastering fear. And yet he did not strike her as the kind of man who would be afraid to meet death!

“Yes?” Her grave eyes met his inquiringly.

He stood looking at her with a kind of desperate irresolution.

“It must be!” he muttered to himself. “Yes — it is the only way.” Then aloud he said abruptly: “You are an American?”

“Yes.”

“A patriotic one?”

The girl flushed.

“I guess you’ve no right to ask such a thing! Of course I am!”

“Don’t be offended. You wouldn’t be if you knew how much there was at stake. But I’ve got to trust some one — and it must be a woman.”

“Why?”