It was published to mark Christie's eightieth birthday and, by counting up both UK and US short-story collections to reach the desired total, was also advertised as her eightieth book. It is the last of her spy novels.
At the beginning of the book there is a quote by Jan Smuts :- "Leadership, besides being a great creative force, can be diabolical ..."
Sir Stafford Nye's flight home from Malaya takes an unexpected twist when the bored diplomat is approached in an airport by a woman whose life is in danger, he agrees to lend her his passport and boarding ticket. Suddenly, Stafford has unwittingly entered a web of international intrigue, from which the only escape is to outwit the power-crazed Countess von Waldsausen who is hell-bent on world domination through the manipulation and arming of the planet's youth, which brings with it what promises to be a resurgence of Nazi domination. Unwittingly the diplomat has put his own life on the line; when he meets the mystery woman again she is a different person and he finds himself drawn into a battle against an invisible and altogether more dangerous enemy
Literary significance and receptionEdit
Francis Iles (Anthony Berkeley Cox) in The Guardian's issue of 15 October 1970 said, "Of all the idiotic conventions attaching to the thriller the silliest is the idea that a car whizzing round a corner at high speed can be aimed at an intended victim who has, quite unseen, stepped off the pavement into the roadway at exactly the right moment. Agatha Christie uses this twice in Passenger to Frankfurt. For the rest the book is largely a discursus on a favourite old theme of Mrs Christie's, the present state of the world and its future outlook, on both of which she takes a somewhat dim view. In other words, for her eightieth book a rather more serious work than usual from this author."
Maurice Richardson in The Observer of September 13, 1970 started off by saying, "Her eightieth book and though not her best very far from her worst." He concluded: "At moments one wonders whether the old dear knows the difference between a hippie and a skinhead but she is still marvellously entertaining. I shall expect her to turn permissive for her eighty-firster."
Robert Barnard: "The last of the thrillers, and one that slides from the unlikely to the inconceivable and finally lands up in incomprehensible muddle. Prizes should be offered to readers who can explain the ending. Concerns the youth uproar of the 'sixties, drugs, a new Aryan superman and so on, subjects of which Christie's grasp was, to say the least, uncertain (she seems to have the oddest idea of what the term 'Third World' means, for example). Collins insisted she subtitle the book 'An Extravaganza.' One can think of other descriptions."
Publication history Edit
- 1970, Collins Crime Club (London), September 1970, Hardcover, 256 pp
- 1970, Dodd Mead and Company (New York), Hardcover, 272 pp
- 1972, Pocket Books (New York), Paperback
- 1973, Fontana Books (Imprint of HarperCollins), Paperback, 192 pp
- 1984, Ulverscroft Large-print Edition, Hardcover, ISBN 0-7089-1184-6
- German: Passagier nach Frankfurt (Passenger to Frankfurt)