The Flood by John Creasey (1956)
John Creasey was an amazingly prolific writer with over 550 novels (under two dozen pseudonyms), more than a dozen nonfiction books, at least four plays, and eight anthologies to his credit. He churned out romances, westerns, juveniles, sports stories, and a handful of Sexton Blake thrillers, but is most well-known for his mysteries. I have found his work to be highly readable (and sometimes excellent). Of his many characters, I am particularly fond of George Gidean (under his "J. J. Marric" pseudomyn), followed closely by the adventures of Roger "Handsome" West.
Creasey was a co-founder of the Crime Writers Association. He also served as president of the Mystery Writers of America and has been named one of their Grand Masters. The annual CWA award for Best First Novel was for many years named in honor of him; alas, no longer. Once one of the most popular writers in the mystery field, Creasey is, if not forgotten, then considered by many as a dusty page from the past.
One of Creasey's most popular creation was Dr. Palfry, the tall, blond head of Z-5, an international association dedicated to stopping world threats. At first these threats were from Nazis, then after the war, Z-5 was chartered to deal with individuals and private organizations bent on world domination. The books drifted into the science fiction/mad scientist realm From their titles alone, you could almost taste the melodrama: The Drought, The Inferno, The Sleep, The Famine, The Plague, The Smog, among others; there were about two dozen books in the series. In the Seventies, Berkley Book issued a number of them in paperback.
As you would expect from the title, the world is threatened by inundation in The Flood. It starts in Scotland, where a strange rain, one that starts at the ground and moves up with great power, pulls down mountains and destroys a village. Bob Woburn, visiting his sister and her family, witnesses this and narrowly escapes the danger, saving also the beautiful Eve Davos. Eve lives with her father on a large estate nearby.
Enter Dr. Palfrey. This strange phenomenon has already destroyed a Pacific island as well as places in America and Canada. Palfrey has good reason to suspect Eve's father is behind all of this. He's right, of course, Davos wants to eliminate the inperfect human race and start anew with a selected people, a race to be begin with his daughter Eve, whom he wants to mate with a very masculine (seemingly dim-witted) guy named Adam. Within days, he plans to release the flood world-wide.
The flood is caused by rapidly multiplying life forms called octi -- kind of a cross between a crab and a jellyfish; one they reach maturity they explode and release a large volume of hydrogen which mixes immeditely with the oxygen in the air to create highly pressurized water. Davos has planted these creatures in certain fissures in the earth. If all this sounds silly, it is; but we willingly suspend disbelief in order to enjoy the ride.
Bob discovers a way to stop the octi, but his message to Palfrey is garbled. Has Palfrey received enough information to figure out what Bob wanted to say? (Spoiler Alert!) Of course he does, but not before East Anglia, the Netherlands, and a few other locations are (sorta) destroyed.
A good old fashioned thriller. Fun.