July 1, 2020

Book Review: Death in the Clouds by Agatha Christie

Death in the Clouds (Hercule Poirot #12)

by Agatha Christie

Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Detective, Crime, British, Series
Publisher: William Morrow
Length: 253
Published: June 14, 2011 (originally published March 10, 1935)
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

My Goodreads Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Official Book Summary:

"Hercule Poirot must solve a perplexing case of midair murder in Death in the Clouds when he discovers that the woman in seat two of the airborne aeroplane he’s traveling on is quite unexpectedly—and unnaturally—deceased.

From seat No. 9, Hercule Poirot was ideally placed to observe his fellow air passengers on the short flight from Paris to London. Over to his right sat a pretty young woman, clearly infatuated with the man opposite; ahead, in seat No. 13, sat a countess with a poorly concealed cocaine habit; across the gangway in seat No. 8, a writer of detective fiction was being troubled by an aggressive wasp.

Yes, Poirot is almost ideally placed to take it all in, except what he did not yet realize was that behind him, in seat No. 2, sat the slumped, lifeless body of a woman. Murdered, and likely by someone in Poirot’s immediate proximity." 

Quote:

"There are more important things than finding the murderer. And justice is a fine word, but it is sometimes difficult to say exactly what one means by it. In my opinion the important thing is to clear the innocent."

Excerpt:

"The September sun beat down hotly on Le Bourget aerodrome as the passengers crossed the ground and climbed into the air liner Prometheus, due to depart for Croydon in a few minutes' time.

Jane Grey was among the last to enter and taker her seat, No. 16. Some of the passengers had already passed on through the centre door past the tiny pantry-kitchen and the two toilets to the front car. Most people were already seated. On the opposite side of the gangway there was a good deal of chatter--a rather shrill, high-pitched woman's voice dominating it. Jane's lips twisted slightly. She knew that particular type of voice so well.

'My dear--it's extraordinary--no idea--Where, do you say? Juan les Pins? Oh, yes. No--Le Pinet--Yes, just the same old crowd--But of course let's sit together. Oh, can't we? Who--? Oh, I see...'

And then a man's voice--foreign, polite:

'--With the greatest of pleasure, Madame.'

Jane stole a glance out of the corner of her eye.

A little elderly man with large moustaches and an egg-shaped head was politely moving himself and his belongings from the seat corresponding to Jane's on the opposite side of the gangway."


My Book Review:

Book twelve in Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot detective series was a wonderful story and in my opinion, every bit as good as Murder on the Orient Express. I'm surprised I hadn't heard it singled out before as one of Agatha Christie's best mysteries.

A locked room mystery, Death in the Clouds begins when twelve passengers are on board the Prometheus, an airplane traveling from France to England. The mystery ensues when toward the end of the flight one of the stewards notices a woman at the back of the plane slumped over. The crew and passengers discover she's been killed. Each of the passengers on board immediately becomes a possible suspect, including our beloved Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot.

Questions of revenge drive the detective case and twists and turns set a suspenseful pace, including when Poirot himself becomes suspect #1 when the the murder weapon--a blowpipe that shot a poisoned dart into the deceased woman's neck-- is found disposed behind his seat. Hercule sets out to solve the murder which becomes increasingly complicated as the seating chart, possessions, possible motives, and gains and losses from the murder are each weighed in turn.

The story is so clever. I mistakenly thought I knew who the actual murderer was very early on, only to discover I fell hook, line, and sinker for a very deceptive red herring. To my knowledge, out of all of the Hercule Poirot novels I've read thus far (a good twenty or thirty to date), this is the only one where Poirot becomes one of the accused. A truly fantastic story and one I highly recommend to any fan of Agatha Christie or suspenseful mysteries.

If You Like This, Then Try:

Other Books from the Hercule Poirot Series
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (#4) by Agatha Christie
The Big Four (#5) by Agatha Christie
Murder on the Orient Express (#10) by Agatha Christie
The ABC Murders (#13) by Agatha Christie
Murder in Mesopotamia (#14) by Agatha Christie
Cards on the Table (#15) by Agatha Christie
Death on the Nile (#17) by Agatha Christie
Five Little Pigs (#25) by Agatha Christie [read my review here]
Halloween Party (#39) by Agatha Christie [read my review here]

Other Agatha Christie Mysteries
Crooked House by Agatha Christie
Murder at the Vicarage (Miss Marple #1) by Agatha Christie
The Secret Adversary (Tommy & Tuppence #1) by Agatha Christie

Nonfiction about Agatha Christie

Other Mysteries
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield (historical fiction, fantasy, magical realism)
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (historical fiction, mystery)
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton [read my review here] (historical fiction, romance, mystery)

Young Adult Mysteries
Truly Devious (#1) by Maureen Johnson
Sadie by Courtney Summers
One of Us is Lying (#1) by Karen M. McManus [read my review here]
Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
Stalking Jack the Ripper (#1) by Kerri Maniscalco [read my review of #3 in that series here] (historical fiction)
A Study in Charlotte (#1) by Brittany Cavallaro (retelling, mystery, crime)



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