N or M?, by Agatha Christie

Tommy and Tuppence (?) Beresford, a middle-aged couple, are recruited to try and break a spy ring which it is suspected has members living at a guest house in a south coast seaside resort. It's 1940, and there are rumours of a German invasion, so it's critical that Tommy and Tuppence find out who might be the "fifth-columnist" who's passing secrets to the enemy about the British preparations for invasion. There are six or seven other guests at the guest-house, and all of them in their way have reason to arouse suspicion.

This is the first Agatha Christie book I've read, I think. It was pretty much the sort of thing I'd expected, although perhaps the setting is not typical: I assumed this would be a murder mystery rather than a tale of wartime espionage. Having said that I think the formula is much the same: plenty of red herrings and suspects, and the odd murder thrown in.

This was OK, but not especially gripping. I don't think I was paying as much attention as I should have been: about halfway through the book it appears that they've caught the spy, and I sort of lost interest and couldn't understand why the book had still so much to go. But - silly me - it obviously wasn't the real spy that they'd caught.

The book is dated 1940, and it was interesting to read about what (presumably) were the attitudes at the time: the very real concern that an invasion was imminent, and the worry about fifth-columnists infiltrating society and trying to cause disruption from within.

I wouldn't rule out reading more Agatha Christie, but it's not top of my list.

Completed : 17-Nov-2007 (audiobook)

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