N or M? is really a work of detective fiction by Agatha Christie first printed in america by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1941 as well as in the United kingdom through the Collins Crime Club in November of the identical year. The United States edition retailed $2.00 and also the United kingdom edition at seven shillings and sixpence (7/6).
The title is obtained from a catechism within the Book of Common Prayer which asks, “What’s your Christian name? Answer N. or M.” The “N. or M.” here means the Latin, “nomen vel nomina”, meaning “name or names”. It’s an accident of typography that “nomina” came into existence symbolized by “m”.
The novel is the first one to feature the mature versions of her detectives Tommy and Tuppence, whose previous appearances have been within the adventure The Key Foe (1922) and also the short story collection Partners in Crime (1929).
Following the outbreak of world war ii and lots of years once they labored for British intelligence, middleaged Tommy and Tuppence Beresford feel useless and sidelined. Then, Tommy is contacted with a undercover agent named Grant to visit undercover once again. Grant attempts to find German spies and fifth columnists but is hampered by traitors within British intelligence who follow and sabotage his work. Since Tommy is not within the field for several years, nobody knows him, and that he can investigate unofficially.
Grant explains that another British agent was lately murdered but created a cryptic message on his deathbed: “N or M. Song Susie”. Grant suspects that “Song Susie” means Sans Souci, expensive hotels in (imaginary) seaside Leahampton (according to Bournemouth), and “N” and “M” are recognized to be two top German spies, one male and something female. Tommy is to visit Sans Souci to research whether N, M or both of them are in the hotel and to determine their identities.
Tommy is distributed alone, but Tuppence decides to participate him on his mission whether asked or otherwise. Through good sleuthing, she learns where he will be sent and really arrives there before he is doing. Cooperating, they start searching for that master spies.
Both N and M’s identities are revealed in the finish from the book “N” is really a top German spy, who’s shot by British intelligence in the book’s conclusion because he threatens Tuppence’s existence, and “M” is his female co-conspirator.
Maurice Willson Disher’s review within the Occasions Literary Supplement of 29 November 1941 started, “To think that N or M? isn’t Miss Agatha Christie’s best is tough as the first fine anxious rapture of her latest story continues to be troubling your brain.” He concluded, “The thing is arrived at when you start to fear for your own personel sanity on catching yourself wondering whether an ingratiating babe-in-arms may not be Herr Doktor in disguise. Yet such is Miss Christie’s skill in tiny the ominous that even infant prattle sounds uncommonly just like a code for that Fifth Column. Quite simply, as Mr Robey has stated prior to this, N or M? will get you.”
Maurice Richardson inside a short review within the 7 December 1941 publication of the Observer authored: “Agatha Christie needs time to work removed from Poirot and also the haute cuisine of crime to create an easy war-time spy thriller. N or M is [an] unknown master fifth columnist hidden in [the] person of some shabby genteel estimate a Bournemouth boarding-house … Christie’s vibrant youthful couple, now middle-aged but active as always, are nearly trapped. Nice surprise finish and all sorts of-round entertainment.”
A brief review by E.R. Punshon within the Protector of 30 December 1941 ended with “Mrs Christie shows herself as ingenious as always, and something admires particularly the means by that the hero snores themself from captivity.”
Robert Barnard: “The Beresfords lead their intolerable high spirits towards the war effort. Less racist compared to earlier thrillers (actually, some apology is created not directly) but forget about convincing.”
Around 1941 or 1942, the British intelligence agency MI5 temporarily investigated Christie herself as she’d named certainly one of her figures within this novel like a certain Major Bletchley. MI5 was afraid that Christie were built with a spy in Britain’s top-secret codebreaking center, Bletchley Park. MI5’s fears were eventually assuaged when Christie revealed to Dilly Knox, who helped break the Enigma machine cypher utilized by German secret service officials delivering spies to Britain, that Major Bletchley, “certainly one of my least adorable figures”, was just named following the section of Milton Keynes, which she once been stuck in throughout a train journey.
The United kingdom television funnel BBC One started airing a 3-part adaptation of “N or M?” on August 16, 2015. The variation was aired included in the Partners in Crime series.
The novel first made an appearance in america inside a condensed version within the March 1941 (Volume 76, Number 5) issue of Redbook magazine, by having an illustration by Alan Haemer.
Within the United kingdom, an abridged version was serialized in seven parts in Woman’s Pictorial from 26 April (Volume 41, Number 1059) to 7 June 1941 (Volume 41, Number 1065) underneath the title Secret Adventure. All of the installments were highlighted by Clive Uptton.