Partners in Crime is a short story collection by British writer Agatha Christie, first published by Dodd, Mead and Company in the US in 1929 and in the UK by William Collins, Sons on 16 September of the same year. The US edition retailed at $2.00 and the UK edition at seven shillings and sixpence (7/6).
All of the stories in the collection had previously been published in magazines (see First publication of stories below) and feature her detectives Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, first introduced in The Secret Adversary (1922).
This collection of detective short stories has a theme connecting the stories, as well, “a group of short detective stories within a detective novel.”
The Beresfords’ old friend Mr Carter, from a government intelligence agency, arrives bearing a proposition for the adventurous duo. They are to take over ‘the International Detective Agency’, a recently cleaned-out spy stronghold, and pose as the owners so as to intercept any enemy messages coming through. In the meantime Tommy and Tuppence can take on cases as this detective agency, an opportunity that delights the young couple. They employ Albert, a young man also introduced in The Secret Adversary, as their assistant at the agency.
The two tackle a series of cases – mimicking in each the style of a famous fictional detective of the period, including Sherlock Holmes and Christie’s own Hercule Poirot. At the end of the book, Tuppence reveals that she is pregnant, and will play a diminished role in the spy business.
- 1929, Dodd Mead and Company (New York), 1929, Hardcover, 277 pp
- 1929, William Collins and Sons (London), 16 September 1929, Hardcover, 256 pp
- ca. 1929, Lawrence E. Spivak (New York), Abridged edition, 126 pp
- 1943, Dodd Mead and Company, (As part of the Triple Threat along with Poirot Investigates and The Mysterious Mr. Quin), Hardcover 1958, Fontana Books (Imprint of HarperCollins), Paperback, 189 pp
- 1962, Pan Books, Paperback (Great Pan G526), 203 pp
- 1963, Dell Books (New York), Paperback, 224 pp
First publication of stories
All of the stories in Partners in Crime first appeared in magazines between 1923 and 1928, principally The Sketch magazine. For publication in book form, Christie rearranged the story order and changed the framing device of several of the chapters to make the flow of the book easier. The original order and publication details of the stories are as follows:
- The First Wish: First published in issue 226 of The Grand Magazine in December 1923. This formed the basis for chapters 20 and 21 of the book – The Clergyman’s Daughter / The Red House. The story was illustrated by Arthur Ferrier.
- Publicity: First published in issue 1652 of The Sketch on 24 September 1924. This formed the basis for chapters 1 and 2 of the book – A Fairy in the Flat / A Pot of Tea. This was the first in a sequence of twelve consecutive stories Christie wrote for The Sketch which appeared under the subtitle of Tommy and Tuppence.
- The Affair of the Pink Pearl: First published in issue 1653 of The Sketch on 1 October 1924. This formed the basis for chapters 3 and 4 of the book which uses the same chapter title.
- Finessing the King: First published in issue 1654 of The Sketch on 8 October 1924. This formed the basis for chapters 7 and 8 of the book – Finessing the King / The Gentleman Dressed in Newspaper.
- The Case of the Missing Lady: First published in issue 1655 of The Sketch on 15 October 1924. This formed the basis for chapter 9 of the book which uses the same chapter title.
- The Case of the Sinister Stranger: First published in issue 1656 of The Sketch on 22 October 1924. This formed the basis for chapters 5 and 6 of the book which use the slightly amended title of The Adventure of the Sinister Stranger.
- The Sunninghall Mystery: First published in issue 1657 of The Sketch on 29 October 1924. This formed the basis for chapters 15 and 16 of the book which use the slightly amended title of The Sunningdale Mystery.
- The House of Lurking Death: First published in issue 1658 of The Sketch on 5 November 1924. This formed the basis for chapters 17 and 18 of the book which use the same chapter title.
- The Matter of the Ambassador’s Boots: First published in issue 1659 of The Sketch on 12 November 1924. This formed the basis for chapter 22 of the book which uses the shortened title of The Ambassador’s Boots.
- The Affair of the Forged Notes: First published in issue 1660 of The Sketch on 19 November 1924. This formed the basis for chapters 13 and 14 of the book using the different title of The Crackler.
- Blindman’s Buff: First published in issue 1661 of The Sketch on 26 November 1924. This formed the basis for chapter 10 of the book which uses the same chapter title.
- The Man in the Mist: First published in issue 1662 of The Sketch on 3 December 1924. This formed the basis for chapters 11 and 12 of the book which uses the same chapter title.
- The Man who was Number Sixteen: First published in issue 1663 of The Sketch on 10 December 1924. This formed the basis for chapter 23 of the book which uses the same chapter title and was also the final story Christie ever wrote for The Sketch.
After a gap of four years a final story, The Unbreakable Alibi, appeared in Holly Leaves, the annual Christmas special of the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News in December 1928. This formed the basis for chapter 19 of the book.
Partners in Crime – First Edition Book Identification Guide
The books are listed in the order of publication. While the majority of Agatha Christie’s books were first published in the UK. There are many titles that were first published in the US. The title of the book may differs from the UK edition in some cases.
|Year||Title||Publisher||First edition/printing identification points|
|1929||Partners in Crime||Dodd, Mead & Co, NY, ||First edition. Date on the title & copyright page matches. No statement of later printings. Blue cloth lettered in orange. Price $ 2.00|
|1929||Partners in Crime||William Collins & Sons, London, ||First English edition. "Copyright, 1929" stated on the copyright page. No statement of later printings. Black cloth lettered in orange. Price 7/6|
Note about Book Club Editions (BCE) and reprints:
UK: You can see statements of later reprint dates or of book club on the copyright page.
US: The US reprint publishers usually use the same sheets as the first edition and are harder to identify by looking at the title page or the copyright page. One may identify a BCE by looking at the DJ, which doesn’t have a price on top of the front flap and a “Book Club Edition” imprint at the bottom. If the dust jacked is clipped at both the top/bottom of the front flap. You can safely assume it’s a BCE . If the book is missing the dust jacket. Later BCE editions can be identified by its plain boards, while first printings are issued in quarter cloth.
Please refer to the gallery for detailed images of true first edition bindings and dust jackets.
Partners in Crime – First Edition Dust Jacket Identification Guide
First edition bindings and various dust jacket printings identification.