It is the first half of World War 2. Agatha Christie, along with her fellow countrymen/women, is coping with food shortages, bombs falling, waiting in lines endlessly (only to find out that the item most needed or wanted was gone by the time one made it to the front of the line), and the ever-present, nagging fear that her closest friends may not make it through the war at all.
“After three years of war, they (broken windows, bombs, land mines, and in due course flying bombs and rockets) would go on…not as something extraordinary, but as perfectly natural.
I had plenty to keep me occupied. I worked two whole days, three half-days, and alternate Saturday mornings at the hospital. The rest of the time I wrote…. I decided to write two books at once… one was “The Body in the Library”…and the other one was “N or M”?, a spy story.”
(from “The Autobiography of Agatha Christie”).
“N or M” IS a spy story, and an entertaining one. An added incentive is that it is about two of my favorite characters, Tommy and Tuppence. They are smart, realistic, brave, loyal to each other and to their country, and to top it all off, they are not afraid to take life-threatening risks for the sake of England’s honor. The characters, as always with a Christie novel, are well done and believable, and we are clued in to the difficulties of knowing who to trust and who to be wary of, mixed in with natural prejudices against an enemy who may be working right alongside one during a very turbulent and trying period of England’s history.
A couple of the scenes I found to be unrealistic, since my reading of espionage books have clued me in to the sad fact that often, there was not a happy ending…but, as always, Agatha Christie kept my interest and I was able to finish the book with a sense of satisfaction. I had identified one of the villains halfway through the book…but that fact did not at all keep me from wanting to continue reading.
Agatha Christie’s writing is down-to-earth, suspenseful, and at the same time, she has that unidentifiable ‘something’ that has made her, for years and years, and still today, a much-loved and favorite author.