Thursday, August 18, 2011

Death in the Clouds by Agatha Christie

51. Death in the Clouds - an Hercule Poirot mystery
by Agatha Christie
mystery, 1935
Kindle book, 29
finished, 7/24/11

My beloved and much-used Agatha Christie Companion says that the reviews for this book were 'a little mixed.' I am on the side of the New York Times:
'A crime puzzle of first quality and mighty entertaining story besides.'
I thought that Death in the Clouds was such a good little mystery. It comes under the 'locked rooms' category in that a murder occurs on an airplane, traveling from Paris to Croydon, while it is in the air. A woman is killed by a poison dart. This seems like such an odd way to commit a murder but it all makes sense as the story goes along. Poirot is aware that he is looked upon as a bit of a 'has-been.' He says,
'Our friend Giraud would urge you to pay no attention to my vagaries. "Be up and doing," he would say. "To sit still in an armchair and think, that is the method of an old man past his prime." But I say that a young hound is often so eager upon the scent that he overruns it...For him is the trail of the red herring.'
And another time he notes that 'I am old-fashioned in my methods. I follow the old adage: seek whom the crime benefits.'

Though Poirot and his life don't change much, expressions such as these show the reader the passing of time. However, it doesn't faze Poirot what others may think. He knows that he shall solve the crime with the use of those iconic 'little grey cells.'

This is the plane Agatha referred to:

And here, from the Agatha Christie Companion is the information about it if you are interested. Click photo to see it more clearly. This is an example of why I love this book so much. The authors bring the time and setting of a book to life for the reader.

'The interior of the Handlev Page 42, displaying the exact layout of the passenger seating and cabin crew, the scene of the crime in Death in the Clouds.'

And there is even a timetable.

The killer must be someone on the plane. The plot is ingenious, the story quite involved, and the surprising culprit made this an excellent Agatha Christie mystery.


  1. I love this book too, Nan. It's one of my faves. I also recommend the PBS Mystery film of a few years ago where they left the story mostly in tact.

    In a million years you can't guess who did it. :) Talk about sleight of hand and pulling the wool over our eyes. She was a master!

  2. Yvette, thanks for the recommendation! She was absolutely a master. I'm more in awe of her work with each book I read.

  3. I love Agatha Christie, but I can't remember having read this one. I'll have to look for it. Thanks a bunch.

  4. I don't know this one, will look out for it. What a lot of pleasure she has given to so many people with her writing.
    Love the new header, it looks quite autumnal, it feels it here in the U.K. cold and damp and a badger has dug up my lawn yet again!

  5. As usual a good book. So satisfying at the end!

  6. Your header photo is breathtaking. Nothing like a misty morning in the country.

  7. Off subject, but want you to know I really LOVE your header picture of the mist/foggy morning.

  8. Nan, in appreciation of your wonderful blog, I've left you an award on my blog. :)

  9. Carole, I am always so amazed at the creatures you have that I've never even seen. From what I've been reading there is some controversy going on about them.

    Mystica, it sure was a great ending. I love being surprised like that.

    Barbara and Jill, thank you both! It was the first one of the summer, telling me that fall is one its way.

    Thank you, Yvette!

  10. Hi Nan. I have recently finished all of the Janes and started on Tommy and Tuppence (all new to me). And then on to re-reading and/or reading Hercule. This one will be new. I envy you your "companion" and need to go look for my own.

  11. I liked Death In the Clouds too. Agatha Christie sure did perfect the "locked door" mystery, didn't she? Last week I saw the newer version of Murder On the Orient Express and it occurred to me that this is another "locked door" mystery since it has to be someone on that railroad car.

    I'm enjoying your reference to the Christie Companion. It seems to add so much to your reviews.

  12. Are you a Dr Who fan, Nan? The book cover was featured in an episode during David Tennant's tenure. The Doctor and companion turn up in the 1920s and meet Agatha Christie; during the show they sort out a nasty alien invasion (the wasp on the book cover is relevant) and solve the mystery of Agatha's famous disappearance.

    Great fun and very inventive!

  13. Oh yes, the Agatha Christie Companion is a MUST have.

    Loved this!


  14. For those who are interested, Agatha Christie: A Reader's Companion by Vanessa Wagstaff & Stephen Poole is available as a used book from the amazon site. It has a great cover.

    Sallie, I mean to get started on T&T, but I can't seem to leave M Poirot. :<) I don't think I've read all the Jane M. books -definitely not all the stories.

    Margot, I have yet to read Orient Express but hope to soon. So famous!!

    Oh, Nicola, that does sound wonderful! I haven't seen many Dr. Who adventures. I should begin!

    Thanks, Sharon. It truly is a great 'companion.'

  15. I think I'm going to have to get that AGATHA CHRISTIE COMPANION! I've read only one so far (Murder on the Orient Express), but plan to dive into The ABC Murders this afternoon. I'd love to look at this other book you have, to get background info on the history/settings. Thanks for the suggestion.

  16. I loved this book. Its one of my favorite Poirot books. I love the one's that are less 'adventure' and more good ol'fashioned detecting.
    The Agatha Christie companion sounds like just the thing for a mystery buff like me.
    Just found your blog through the ACRC and I think its lovely.

  17. Thanks, Che! I think you'd love the Companion book.


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