HarperCollins (Masterpiece edition)
2008, 224 pp
originally published 1948
apa: There is a Tide
In 1944, as the German bombs are falling, Hercule Poirot is safely ensconced in the Coronation Club, when he first hears of the Cloade family. It seems the family patriarch & millionaire, Gordon, was killed when a bomb hit his London home, but his young wife was spared. As it turns out, the wife had previously been married to a Robert Underhay, who had mysteriously disappeared in Africa and was presumed dead. Two years later, Poirot receives a strange visit from one of the Cloade family of Warmsley Vale who has received a message from the spirit world that Robert Underhay is not really dead. Not long after, he reads about the death of an Enoch Arden in the same village.
Christie then takes the story to Warmsley Vale, and introduces the Cloade family. It seems that all of them were financially dependent on Gordon Cloade, and that this young wife, Rosaleen, has thrown a bit of a monkey wrench into the situation. Living now in Gordon's home with her brother David, Rosaleen was the sole beneficiary to Gordon's vast estate, and David stands between the family and financial assistance. Rosaleen, it seems, is eager to help, but David despises the rest of the Cloades and refuses to lend them a penny. Things go from bad to worse when a mysterious stranger, one Enoch Arden (the namesake of a poem from Tennyson) appears with a bizarre story about Robert Underhay. Pretty soon someone ends up dead. It is Poirot's job to not only figure out who the murderer is, but to get to the bottom of the whole mess. This won't be a simple task.
With several suspects to choose from, Taken at the Flood is one of those stories where the truth is unraveled bit by bit, so that the reader is not really sure of the whodunit until the end. There are plenty of red herrings to sort through -- and just when you think you know who it is, something else pops up to make you think again. Throughout the novel there is a buildup of suspense as you wonder what is really going on here.
Not my favorite of Agatha Christie's novels, it is still an enjoyable read. There is a small peek at some of the hardships of postwar British life that enhances the sense of the desperation of these characters, and Christie manages to keep the underlying tension running throughout the novel.
Taken at the Flood is Poirot's 27th adventure - and he's still going strong, although the earlier Poirot novels of the 20s & 30s were more to my liking. Recommended for fans of Poirot and for Agatha Christie readers in general - these books may be old, but they're still worth reading.
fiction from England