N or M? is a fun tale of coupled detectives Tommy and Tuppence as they struggle to uncover the identity of the fifth column in a small seaside hotel during World War Two. It brings you what you would expect from an Agatha Christie book with the engaging and charming style that relaxes you into the adventure. The bright energetic characters and fun, almost expected, style of writing almost makes up for the lacklustre plot. Even though the pair have become my new favourite detectives, I hope their other books will be worthy of their personality.
I have already read two stories in the Poriot series and I have to say, Tommy and Tuppence are much more intriguing. They appear to be more active in their stories instead of a character who just appears in the end and explains everything. Tuppence immediately earned my admiration when she showed up to the hotel when she wasn’t supposed to. Throughout the book, she had proven herself to be a strong capable woman with a great relationship with her husband. Tommy, on the other hand, was a nice down to earth character. He balances the relationship really well and is also a loving husband.
My main issue with the book is the reveals towards the end. As it is a mystery, I want to be shocked like I was in The Greenshore Folly. However, both left me disappointed. One of the culprits was such a minor character that the reveal did nothing for me emotionally and I figured the other one out about fifty pages earlier. Maybe the way that there was no actual murder stopped me from being too invested in the story. It was just a story about espionage and they had to stop the culprit before they did anything. But because they didn’t do anything, it lost its impact. Well, apart from one scene that made it kind of obvious as to who the culprit was.
A lot of books during the early 40s were about the evil Germans and how it is the British duty to stop them. This was a theme throughout the story, but it wasn’t as over the top as it has been in other stories. In fact, it only became an issue with the big reveal of German Carl Von Deinim. I don’t want to expose what the reveal was, but I think it would have been even better if Christie did not have it. It just took away a beautiful sub-plot that would have been amazing. However, the rest of it wasn’t so bad, so it didn’t ruin the book. Instead, it was just a little disappointing.
The writing is classic Christie. There may not be a lot of depth, but it is bright and engaging. I really rooted for the characters and it was just a pleasant read. Actually, it’s the type of writing that you can read if you need something to put you in a tip top mental state, so go into it open minded.
This quick read is a fun detective story with likeable leads. Even though the actual mystery was a little disappointing, the bright energy throughout the book is comforting and encourages me to have a look at the other books in the series. Overall, I will give it 7.1/10.
Question: Who is your favourite pair of detectives?