Name: Taken at the Flood (Poirot #28)
Author: Agatha Christie
Number of Pages: 353 (Paperback)
Published: 2002 by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd(Originally published March 1948)
Genre: Mystery, Crime
A few weeks after marrying an attractive young widow, Gordon Cloade is tragically killed by a bomb blast in the London blitz. Overnight, the former Mrs Underhay finds herself in sole possession of the Cloade family fortune.
Shortly afterwards, Hercule Poirot receives a visit from the dead man’s sister-in-law who claims she has been warned by ‘spirits’ that Mrs Underhay’s first husband is still alive. Poirot has his suspicions when he is asked to find a missing person guided only by the spirit world. Yet what mystifies Poirot most is the woman’s true motive for approaching him…
You know a Poirot story is doing it right when you suspect literally everyone at some point or another only to find that the actual person/persons was someone you never for a moment considered. That’s what happened in Taken at the Flood.
The tale begins with an ending, a death in the Cloade family. The recently married Gordon Cloade has died in an air raid, leaving everything to his new young wife, much to the consternation of various other members of the Cloade family, who always believed that Gordon would cover their living costs in life and after his death.
Cue a narrative of a country village into which arrives the young widow and her brother, a whole host of Cloades with definite motive to want this young woman out of the way (they would inherit the vast fortune were it not for this woman), and much plotting, scheming, misdirection and red herrings of every kind.
Poirot doesn’t really feature until the halfway point, by which time I’d suspected so many characters that of course via coincidence, prior knowledge and some assistance from those infamous little grey cells, Poirot was left to unravel the threads and present the actual solution in his own inimitable way, leaving me once again surprised.
The very last chapter though… No. Just no!