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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-07-09 12:26
Taken at the Flood
Taken at the Flood - Agatha Christie

Poirot sighed. ‘One should never struggle against the inevitable,’ he said. ‘If a middle-aged lady wearing sham Egyptian beads has made up her mind to see the famous Hercule Poirot, and has come up from the country to do so, nothing will deflect her. She will sit there in the hall till she gets her way. Show her in, George.’

This will contain spoilers.

 

Taken at the Flood had an interesting start to the story. We start the story in a gentlemen's club in London during an air raid. What is interesting is that Christie starts off with a show blatant xenophobia by one of the club's members who is deemed to be a bore, but also deemed to be a character of integrity (as shown later in the story). 

 

From there on we get a story about dependencies in various forms. It was curious to watch Christie developing characters in this story, but I could not buy into the psychology of her characters: not that all of them would resign themselves to doom, not that none of them would question David Hunter constantly hanging around his sister. Was he there during her marriage, too? If the family was so closely dependent on Gordon Cloade, would they not have met his new wife or heard about her brother?

 

And what about the other members of the Cloade family, too? Could they really have been so inept and helpless? Could they really have been so ignorant of each others affairs and weaknesses?

 

I'm not sure the psychology really works in this book.

 

This is not helped by Poirot swanning around in the second half of the book and uttering nonsensical metaphors. I would expect this from Miss Marple, but not from Poirot. Come on!

 

Poirot is pretty annoying in this book whenever he appears. He is arrogant and a bit snobbish, and witholds information from the reader. I could have made peace with that, but then he turns into a complete idiot when he stands by to witness an attempted murder and does absolutely nothing to stop it. Well, not nothing. He politely coughs.

 

Wtf?

 

It's like a bad comedy sketch.

 

What was most annoying, tho, was the ending: As I said, the story is based on a lot of dependencies, some between the characters. Some sweet, but some are really dark and abusive. To have to book end with one of the characters, who had hitherto been described as a confident, self-reliant young woman, a former wren, agree to marry a guy she tried to leave for most of the book

and who had only a few pages before been trying to strangle her

(spoiler show)

, just defies all reason, and to not comment on this being a bad idea just seems like carelessness on Christies' part.

 

Oh, and the solution to the actual mystery is as equally far-fetched.

 

The only reason that redeemed the book somewhat is that I enjoyed one particular scene in all of this mess, and that was when Lionel confesses his financial ruin to his wife. That was a well written and touching moment:

She was looking at him with complete astonishment.

‘Really, Jeremy! What on earth do you think I married you for?’

He smiled slightly. ‘You have always been a most loyal and devoted wife, my dear. But I can hardly flatter myself that you would have accepted me in— er— different circumstances.’

She stared at him and suddenly burst out laughing. ‘You funny old stick! What a wonderful novelettish mind you must have behind that legal façade! Do you really think that I married you as the price of saving Father from the wolves— or the Stewards of the Jockey Club, et cetera?’

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text 2017-07-08 23:36
Reading progress update: I've read 93%.
Taken at the Flood - Agatha Christie

The hands tightened round her neck, the room whirled, blackness, spinning blackness, suffocation— everything going dark… And then, suddenly a cough. A prim, slightly artificial cough. [...]

Just inside the door, Hercule Poirot stood apologetically coughing.

‘I hope,’ he said, ‘that I do not intrude? I knocked. Yes, indeed, I knocked, but no one answered… I suppose you were busy?’

WTF, Poirot??

 

[quote redacted to avoid spoilers]

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text 2017-07-06 23:58
The Inevitable
Taken at the Flood - Agatha Christie

Poirot sighed.

‘One should never struggle against the inevitable,’ he said. ‘If a middle-aged lady wearing sham Egyptian beads has made up her mind to see the famous Hercule Poirot, and has come up from the country to do so, nothing will deflect her. She will sit there in the hall till she gets her way.

Show her in, George.’

Haha. And we're off...

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text 2017-07-02 13:06
Dame Agatha - Reading List Update

Update - Jul. 2017: 35 of 66 books read. I think most of the clangers are out of the way now.

 

Update - Jan. 2017: 28 of 66 books read. Looking forward to more.

 

Update - Jun. 2016: A few more of the reads and re-reads taken off the list.

 

Update - Dec. 2015: I'll repost this every now and then to keep track of titles and reviews.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have read most of Dame Agatha's books in my teens (though mostly in translation) but as am in the process of a re-read, I need a list to keep me right. 

 


Year
published
Title Detectives
1920 The Mysterious Affair at Styles Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings, Inspector Japp
1922 The Secret Adversary Tommy and Tuppence
1923 The Murder on the Links Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings, Monsieur Giraud
1924 The Man in the Brown Suit Colonel Race
Anne Beddingfeld
1925 The Secret of Chimneys Superintendent Battle
Anthony Cade
1926 The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Hercule Poirot
Inspector Raglan
1927 The Big Four Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings, Inspector Japp
1928 The Mystery of the Blue Train Hercule Poirot
1929 The Seven Dials Mystery Superintendent Battle
Eileen "Bundle" Brent
1930 The Murder at the Vicarage Miss Marple
Inspector Slack
1931 The Sittaford Mystery
also Murder at Hazelmoor
Emily Trefusis
Inspector Narracott
1932 Peril at End House Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings, Inspector Japp
1933 Lord Edgware Dies
also Thirteen at Dinner
Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings, Inspector Japp
1934 Murder on the Orient Express
also Murder in the Calais Coach
Hercule Poirot
1934 Why Didn't They Ask Evans?
also The Boomerang Clue
Bobby Jones
Frankie Derwent
1935 Three Act Tragedy
also Murder in Three Acts
Hercule Poirot
Mr. Satterthwaite
1935 Death in the Clouds
also Death in the Air
Hercule Poirot
Inspector Japp
1936 The A.B.C. Murders
also The Alphabet Murders
Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings, Chief Inspector Japp
1936 Murder in Mesopotamia Hercule Poirot
Captain Maitland, Dr. Reilly
1936 Cards on the Table Hercule Poirot
Colonel Race, Superintendent Battle, Ariadne Oliver
1937 Dumb Witness
also Poirot Loses a Client/Mystery at Littlegreen House
Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings
1937 Death on the Nile Hercule Poirot
Colonel Race
1938 Appointment with Death Hercule Poirot
1938 Hercule Poirot's Christmas
also Murder for Christmas/A Holiday for Murder
Hercule Poirot
1939 Murder is Easy
also Easy to Kill
Superintendent Battle
Luke Fitzwilliam
1939 And Then There Were None

Sir Thomas Legge
Inspector Maine
1940 Sad Cypress Hercule Poirot
1940 One, Two, Buckle My Shoe
also An Overdose of Death/The Patriotic Murders
Hercule Poirot
Chief Inspector Japp
1941 Evil Under the Sun Hercule Poirot
Colonel Weston, Inspector Colgate
1941 N or M? Tommy and Tuppence
1942 The Body in the Library Miss Marple
Inspector Slack
1942 Five Little Pigs
also Murder in Retrospect
Hercule Poirot
1942 The Moving Finger
also The Case of the Moving Finger
Miss Marple
1944 Towards Zero
also Come and Be Hanged
Superintendent Battle
Inspector James Leach
1944 Death Comes as the End Hori
1945 Sparkling Cyanide
also Remembered Death
Colonel Race
Chief Inspector Kemp
1946 The Hollow
also Murder After Hours
Hercule Poirot
Inspector Grange
1948 Taken at the Flood
also There is a Tide...
Hercule Poirot
Superintendent Spence
1949 Crooked House Charles Hayward
Chief Inspector Taverner
1950 A Murder is Announced Miss Marple
Chief Inspector Craddock
1951 They Came to Baghdad Victoria Jones
1952 Mrs McGinty's Dead
also Blood Will Tell
Hercule Poirot
Ariadne Oliver, Superintendent Spence
1952 They Do It with Mirrors
also Murder with Mirrors
Miss Marple
Inspector Curry
1953 After the Funeral
also Funerals are Fatal
Hercule Poirot
Inspector Morton, Mr. Goby
1953 A Pocket Full of Rye Miss Marple
1954 Destination Unknown
also So Many Steps to Death
Mr. Jessop, Captain Leblanc
1955 Hickory Dickory Dock
also Hickory Dickory Death
Hercule Poirot
Inspector Sharpe
1956 Dead Man's Folly Hercule Poirot
Ariadne Oliver
1957 4.50 from Paddington
also What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!/Murder She Said
Miss Marple
Chief Inspector Craddock, Lucy Eyelesbarrow
1958 Ordeal by Innocence Arthur Calgary
Superintendent Huish
1959 Cat Among the Pigeons Hercule Poirot
Inspector Kelsey, Adam Goodman
1961 The Pale Horse Inspector Lejeune
Ariadne Oliver, Mark Easterbrook
1962 The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side
also The Mirror Crack'd
Miss Marple
Chief Inspector Craddock
1963 The Clocks Hercule Poirot
Det. Inspector Hardcastle, Colin Lamb
1964 A Caribbean Mystery Miss Marple
1965 At Bertram's Hotel Miss Marple
Chief Inspector Fred "Father" Davy
1966 Third Girl Hercule Poirot
Ariadne Oliver, Chief Inspector Neele, Mr. Goby
1967 Endless Night Sergeant Keene
1968 By the Pricking of My Thumbs Tommy and Tuppence
1969 Hallowe'en Party Hercule Poirot
Ariadne Oliver, Superintendent Spence
1970 Passenger to Frankfurt Stafford Nye
1971 Nemesis Miss Marple
1972 Elephants Can Remember Hercule Poirot
Ariadne Oliver
1973 Postern of Fate
Last novel Christie wrote
Tommy and Tuppence
1975 Curtain
Poirot's last case, written 36 years earlier.
Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings
1976 Sleeping Murder
Miss Marple's last case, written 36 years earlier
Miss Marple

 

 

 

Stats:

Read: 35/66

 

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review 2017-04-24 23:53
Death Comes as the End
Death Comes As the End - Agatha Christie

“All life is a jest, Imhotep - and it is death who laughs last. Do you not hear it at every feast? Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die.”

Death Comes as the End is Dame Agatha's only historical mystery and she makes full use of her in-depth knowledge of Ancient Egypt. The detail of Egyptian artefacts and religious beliefs Dame Agatha weaved into this was delightful and made up for the odd dalliances with annoying love triangles. What it didn't quite achieve was to give some authenticity to the characters which still seemed as if they had been copied out of an English country house setting. 

 

I guess, in a way one could argue that the relationships between Christie's characters and their issues are universal, but I could not help imagine some of the characters having a strong London accent. 

 

Never mind, it was a fun read.

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