Sunday, January 14, 2024

There Is a Tide (Taken at the Flood)

 There Is a Tide [aka Taken at the Flood] (March 1948) by Agatha Christie

During the war, Gordon Cloade had met a young widow and married her. Just two weeks into the marriage a bomb hit his London home--killing everyone but Rosaleen Cloade and her brother David Hunter. Previous to his marriage, Cloade had served as the financial buffer for his family. He provided capital for new ventures, money for unexpected expenses, and promised to see everyone taken care of in his will. But he hadn't had a chance to write a new will since marrying Rosaleen...which means his widow scooped the pot. Rosaleen seems inclined to help her inlaws, but she is firmly under brother David's thumb and he believes in "finders keepers."

During another air raid, Hercule Poirot is sheltering with men from the Concordia Club and listens to Major Porter comment on the death of Cloade. Cloade's widow was previously married to Porter's best friend, Robert Underhay. The marriage wasn't a happy one and while Robert supposedly died in Africa, he had confided to Porter that "If a report of my death gets back that will make Rosaleen a widow, which is what she wants...maybe a Mr. Enoch Arden will turn up somewhere a thousand miles or soa away and start life anew." 

So...when a Mr. Enoch Arden shows up in the village where the Cloades live and Rosaleen and David have taken up residence, one wonders if Underhay has come back. And when Arden is found murdered one evening after having met with David in the morning, one wonders if David has silenced the one man who could throw a spanner into the inheritance works. But more death follows and it will take Hercule Poirot to figure out the twists and turns that lead to the real killer.

I read this once before...long ago and far away when a pre-teen and I was making my way through every Agatha Christie our Carnegie Library had on the shelves. At the time, I awarded four stars (with no explanation because past Bev didn't believe in reviews). Present Bev does not disagree. The plot is very nice and twisty. Just when I thought I'd figured it out, Dame Agatha would throw another curve ball and I'd change mind. So, actually, I would give the mystery plot five stars. But...there are two quibbles. First, Poirot does not show up (after the initial scene with the club bore telling his story about Underhay) until way late in the book. And then there's not quite enough of him. Two--that ending. Even in 1948, I can't believe a woman who had been in the WRENS would go back to a man who nearly strangled her to death because if he couldn't have her, then no one could. Seriously? I mean, yes, there are women who stay in relationships when they really shouldn't. But usually it's because they think they'll change him. Or they're too scared to leave. This gal says (when she's still free and could just walk away): "When you caught hold of me by the throat and said if I wasn't for you, no one should have me--well--I knew then that I was your woman!" Agatha, honey, I'm not buying it. ★★★★

First line: In every club there is a club bore.

Last line: "But you see, Rowley, I do love you--and you've had such a hell of a time--and I've never, really, cared much for being safe...."


Deaths =  9 (six wartime; one hit on head; one shot; one poisoned)

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