Death in the Clouds by Agatha Christie is another Poirot mystery. The book was first published in the US on 10 March 1935. As the title of the book suggests, the murder in this book takes place in the clouds. Well! Not in the clouds in the genuine sense but in the closed confines of a flying commercial passenger plane. Agatha Christie or the mystery queen is known for her ingenious plots and this is definitely one of her ingenious plot structures. In fact, this plot set a trend and inspired a number of other authors to come out with a plot very similar to this.
While this isn’t one of my most loved Poirot mysteries, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. As is the case with most of Poirot mysteries, this is a classic ‘locked-room mystery’. The locked-room, in this case, is a plane on a flight from Paris to Croydon. Some of the Christie fans do not term this book as a ‘locked-room mystery’. According to them, this is a ‘closed-scene mystery’, where only a selected group of characters could possibly have carried out the crime or the murder. For me, both ‘locked-room’ and ‘closed-scene’ denote the same thing. In both the cases, no intruder could have entered or left the crime scene. So, let’s leave this debate and get ahead with the review.
As mentioned above, the plot of this novel involves a plane on a flight from Paris to England. A total of eleven passengers are traveling on this plane. These passengers are Daniel Clancy (a mystery writer), Armand Dupont and his son Jean (both French archaeologists), Norman Gale (a dentist), Bryant (a doctor), Madam Giselle (a famous French moneylender), James Ryder (a businessman), Countess Cicely Horbury, Venetia Keer (Horbury’s friend), Jane grey (a young lady) and our beloved Hercule Poirot. Just before landing, Madam Giselle is found dead in her seat. Initially, her death seems to be as a result of a wasp sting. A number of passengers had seen a wasp flying around the compartment. However, the discovery of a blowpipe and a thorn dispensed with snake venom changes the scenario. Madam Giselle’s death was not due to a wasp sting. On the contrary, she was killed by a poisoned dart aimed with a blowpipe. Shockingly, the blowpipe, from which the arrow is thought to have been shot, is found under Hercule Poirot’s seat. Did Hercule Poirot kill Madam Giselle or somebody else was trying to implicate him?
This is one of those books where unpredictability of the plot will force the readers to keep turning the pages until the last page. The plot is laced with so many layers that will keep readers glued to the pages of this book. The narration is engaging, the pacing is quick, the characters are well-sketched, and the mystery component is well-constructed. However, at the same time, this is not one of those mysteries that you can term as a roller-coaster ride filled with adrenaline rushing moments. The ending is satisfactory but this ending will not take the wind out of your sails. Overall, the book can be termed as a fun read with a good solution at the end.
This post is a part of Agatha Christie Reading Challenge