Tuesday, 26 April 2016

taken at the flood

On Tuesday 12th April I finished Taken At The Flood by Agatha Christie. After a run of disappointing ones (aside from Ariadne's appearance in Dead Man's Folly), it was a pretty good one, although a couple of things at the end let it down.

It had been an interesting read, both plot and characters, but one aspect of the howdunnit revealed at the end was rather too far-fetched, and one relationship resolution was of the 'he hit me (and it felt like a kiss)' kind, which sits very uncomfortably now, and one wonders to what extent it sat comfortably with readers in 1948 when it was first published.

As with my last Agatha Christie, there was something which I reckoned very early on as definitely part of the solution, but I didn't lean on it too hard, as I know how easy it can be to make a mistaken choice early on and then you start reading with a closed mind and start missing things. (I was right, but the pleasure for me is never in trying to work it out ahead of time, but appreciating (or not) at the how it has all fitted together.)

First line: In every club there is a club bore.
Last line: [omitted]
Epigraph: There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

(The epigraph - and therefore the title - is from Julius Caesar.)

The cover is one of an edition - literally called the Signature Edition - which features Agatha's signaure for the author name, over an illustration, often simple or stylised with just one or two key colours. The cover illustration is interesting in that it represents the Blitz, although the whole book except the Prologue happens after the war. Does the choice of illustration just signify the most visually interesting thing which happens in the book, or is just that it depicts the event which precipitates the events of the book, or is it hinting that the event is more significant than that, or is it just to draw potential purchasers who think a book set during the war might be more interesting? These are things I thought early in my reading, not in retrospect, so they do not reflect anything about the actual plot as it develops, but I find it very interesting that reading a detective novel with a suspicious mind can lead you to serious scrutiny and analysis of what is a pretty straightforward cover illustration. It's a cover I like a lot, both the colours and the stylised simplicity of it. (The white sticker at the bottom of the spine says 'MYS' - it's a library book.)