The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie : book club discussion questions

Please be aware that these discussion questions contain spoilers.


After the First World War, a pair of broke friends, in their early twenties, decide that it would be a great wheeze to be detectives. They take down the Master Criminal of the Age while trading quips and falling in love. There are red herrings aplenty.

Discussion Questions

  • Tuppence is presented as a modern woman,  of high intelligence, who was of service during the war. The American woman she attempts to rescue points out that American women are older for their age than British “girls”. When does Tuppence act in surprisingly childlike ways? What does this say about the way feminity is constructed in Christie’s book?
  • Tommy is presented as a romantic hero. What virtues is he given to make him attractive to the women readers of the time? What flaws is he given to make him more attractive?
  • Why is it necessary for Christie and her contemporary readers that Tommy uncover the villain?
  • Every so often the characters break off incredibly important tasks to be polite, generally by offering each other refreshments. Is this ever jarring?
  • How realistic is Christie’s Labour party? Do you think this reflects Christie’s own view?
  • What does the master criminal want beyond “power”? Is his plan for getting it sensible? Is his diary a coherent part of the book, or just an odd coda?
  • Is the red herring too obvious?  Does the murder reduce the cast of possible villains to too small a number?

The Library Service has this novel in several formats.