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Agatha Christie - Taken at the Flood - Full Review
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Taken at the Flood

by Agatha Christie

HarperCollins
Unabridged CD Edition – 2007
Read by Hugh Fraser

The truth is that one never believes for a minute, no matter what danger you’re in, that you yourself are going to be killed. The bomb is always going to hit the other person.



Taken at the Flood is a well structured and well executed murder mystery with a gripping start, but which is dulled by a lack of admirable personalities and marred by a revolting romantic sub-plot.

There is an over-complex main plot which is hard to follow and a cast of characters who would not be greatly missed if some chance event stranded the lot on a desert island.

This is a Poirot novel and whilst that is often sufficient to produce a reasonably fascinating investigation storyline, in this novel this is not the case.

The point-of-view changes continually and Poirot makes an appearance in a limited portion of the story.

On the positive side, the crimes in this story have an ingenious solution which, in spite of the book being full of significant clues, even the most attentive reader will struggle to puzzle out before the closing pages.

The Second World War is the dominant element in this story, but is only responsible for only some of the deaths. The death of Gordon Cloade – as a consequence of German bombing - is a tragic end for a wealthy and benevolent man and a double loss for all those who have become financially dependent on him.

Agatha Christie makes further use of the war as a defining feature in the life of Lynn Marchmont – a niece of Cloade who returns from active service to find that her perception of her life in the country and her life goals have altered. A storyline with some potential, but which ultimately is a failure.

Lynn Marchmont’s storyline is crude, contrived and less a march into the psychology of a woman liberated by war experience and more a study of feminine deviancy.

The entire story is characterised by the theme of descent into deviancy. Gordon Cloade’s relatives come to realize just how dependent they were on Cloade. The fate of his wealth becomes the source of scheming which reveals a depth of greed and envy. The scheming tests the mettle of those involved and carries in its wake, self-revelation and – at least for some of the players in this deadly game – a measure of remorse.

The most impressive feature of the book is the intriguing question of the fate of Robert Underhay – the first husband of Gordon Cloade’s bride – who - it is suggested - feigned his own death to free his unhappy wife from an unhappy marriage without enduring the disgrace of divorce. A noble act pehaps, but one with consequences.

In spite of its flaws, the book flows along at quite a pace and whilst not upto Christie’s usual standard is not likely to completely disappoint the reader who enjoys a particularly challenging murder mystery.

The book is read by Hugh Fraser whose performance here is weaker than usual. The main flaw being the Irish accent of one of the key characters which in this reading sounds more mid-Atlantic than Hibernian.

Litrev rating 2 / 5



 

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