Postern of Fate is the last of Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence novels. In reading them in order, I chose not to revisit By the Pricking of My Thumbs because I had posted its review several years ago. Since Christie aged these characters along with the years, in 1973, when this book was written, we find Tommy and Tuppence in their 70’s.
The Beresfords have sold their London apartment and bought a house in a small village. This activity has resulted in renovations and clearings out, as apparently the previous occupants made no effort to remove everything. Tuppence finds a lot of old children’s books, and as she’s sorting them, she naturally begins dipping into them. In Stevenson’s The Black Arrow she finds a basic code made from reading only the first letters of some underlined words. It says, “Mary Jordan did not die naturally. It was one of us.” By asking around the village about the history of the house, she finds that Mary Jordan worked for the Parkinsons before World War I. She was thought to be a German spy. Tuppence also finds the gravestone of Alexander Parkinson, the boy who owned the book, who died at fourteen.
Tommy in the meantime has met with some old contacts and found that Mary Jordan was indeed a spy but for the British side, sent to infiltrate a nest of Nazis. It’s believed that papers are still hidden in the house that would affect some people now high in the government.
Although this book has an intriguing premise, I don’t think it was one of Christie’s best. For one thing, early on Tuppence finds an object that is later referenced several times before she figures out the connection. To me, it was all too obvious just from the first reference, but it takes Tuppence another 100 pages or so.
However, Tommy and Tuppence are still a pleasing pair, and there is even some danger. Tommy and Tuppence save the day with the help of their dog, Hannibal, who was himself an entertaining character.
This sounds good, even if it’s not her best. I’ve still only read the first two Tommy and Tuppence books and want to continue reading them in order, but I’ll get to this one eventually!
Yep! I think it’s not as silly as some of the others.
These late ones really aren’t up to the standard of her earlier books, and I often wish that her publisher or someone had taken a firm line with her and told her to retire. It’s many years since I read this one, mostly because I remember finding the deterioration in her skills a bit depressing.
I just thought that in general the Tommy and Tuppence novels were more silly, because they were usually espionage plots and highly unlikely. This one is actually more likely.
Love me some Tommy and Tuppence. I remember this one well… I’ve decided, I’m going to collect them all and (something very much unlike me) maybe even re-read them all!