"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Book Review: Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie

Postern of Fate
Author:  Agatha Christie
Copyright:  1973
Publisher:  The Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd., by arrangement  with William Collins, Sons & Co. Ltd.
Pages:  253
Includes:  Table of Contents
Genre:  Mystery
Source:  I purchased this book

Four great gates has the city of Damascus...Postern of Fate, the Desert Gate, Disaster's Cavern, Fort of Fear... Pass not beneath, O Caravan, or pass not singing.  Have you heard That silence where the birds are dead, yet something pipeth like a bird?
~ James Elroy Flecker:  Gates of Damascus
(The title of Postern of Fate is derived from the poem Gates of Damascus by James Elroy Flecker)

Postern (from Webster's Dictionary) - 1) a back door or gate
                                                                                2) a private or side entrance or way
the initial cover for the UK edition

Summary:  When Tommy and Tuppence Beresford move to a quiet English village, they are for once not looking for adventure, just a peaceful retirement. However, adventure is set to find them when they discover that their rambling old house holds many forgotten secrets. Who is Mary Jordan? And why has someone left a coded message in an old book about her 'unnatural' death?

Though Postern of Fate was the last book written by Agatha Christie it was not the final book to appear in print.  (http://agathachristie.com/christies-work/stories/postern-of-fate)

My Review:  How I enjoy Tommy and Tuppence as the retired sleuths/detectives in this, Postern of Fate, the last book ever written by Agatha Christie; though it should be noted it was not the last of Agatha Christie's to be published.  Tommy and Tuppence have "retired" to a quiet village and are in the process of fixing up an old estate house.  When Tuppence happens upon a book, a copy of The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson, she discovers a cypher which intrigues her.  Once deciphered, Tuppence shares with Tommy the message "Mary Jordan did not die naturally.  It was one of us."  However unwittingly and unintentional, the pair investigate, asking people of the town what they know of Mary Jordan.  What they discover puts them in touch not only with old acquaintances from their earlier days, but in the grasp of a would- be murderer.  

I'd read only one other Agatha Christie novel featuring Tommy and Tuppence, Partners in Crime, as reviewed on this blog, prior to Postern of Fate.  Postern of Fate doesn't disappoint, as it delves into the political climate of 60  years previous, and its continuing impact on the present day.  This novel explores sinister intent with derivations from the garden, featuring the two loveable protagonists, the Beresfords.

Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, have a desire to "know things" that cannot be extinguished with time nor age.  They are quite the team, this married couple who love to banter back and forth, challenging each other's minds. It seems to keep each on their toes, which is essential in the line of work they have enjoyed during their working years. The bantering of this couple seems to have gotten a little milder in Postern of Fate than what I recall in Partners in Crime, though still enjoyable.  The following is an example of just this, beginning with Tuppence as she converses with her husband Tommy:
"You aren't trying to make me drink bay rum, are you?" 
"No, I don't think I particularly want to drink bay rum myself."
"Well," said Tuppence, "if I may get on with what I was saying------" 
"I should like you to," said Tommy. "You'll do it anyway, but I should like to feel it was because I'd urged you to do so." ~ page 95, Postern of Fate
It is at this point that Tuppence shares with Tommy her suspicions about Mathilda, the rocking horse. Tuppence and Tommy are in their 70's in this novel and ready to retire, but their inquisitive natures don't retire so easily as the body might like.  

With reference to gardening, the danger of foxglove (digitalis) and its role in this mystery, Postern of Fate is a good example of the meticulous nature of Agatha Christie's research. Postern of Fate also references previous cases the sleuthing pair worked on together, such as N or  M which is mentioned a few times throughout the book, thus encouraging the reader to locate more of Agatha Christie's novels featuring these two heroes.   Again, Ms. Christie captures the reader's imagination while encouraging analysis as you try to solve the mystery.  I quite enjoyed Postern of Fate and highly recommend it to Agatha Christie enthusiasts, especially Tommy and Tuppence fans, and particularly lovers of gardening. 

Rated 4.5/5

This review will be linked up with the Agatha Christie Blog Carnival on the 24th of June.  Stop by for a visit Agatha Christie Blog Carnival.
Hosting this Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Carnival is Kerrie.  "You can submit a link to any postings you have made that review Agatha Christie books or relate to interesting articles about Agatha Christie by going to the Carnival collecting space and putting in the URL, your details, and a comment about the post. The closing date for each month's Carnival is the 22nd of the month. The Carnival will appear on the 23rd."  See her blog for further details.  Come join the mystery! 


  1. I have the first T & T on my shelf and look forward to reading them all. This was such a good review, and I'm going to save it to read again after I read Postern of Fate. Thanks.

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