DEATH IN THE CLOUDS (1935) by Agatha Christie

chrisite-death-in-the-clouds_fontanaI rarely review Christie’s books, mainly because her work is already so well covered out there on the blogosphere. But now that my amazing oldest niece (of two, by 12 minutes) is getting into crime fiction, its time for one of my rare posts on her work – but in fact, not by me at all as this is going to be a guest review.  She is already a GAD veteran, having read Carr, Marsh and Queen, but this is her first Christie, which I suggested for its clever plot, lack of scary bits and the international setting. But now, over to: Littlemisscrime47

We submit this review for Bev’s Mystery Scavenger Hunt; and don’t forget to check out Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme over at her fab Pattinase blog.

When a french moneylender is murdered aboard airliner the Prometheus from Paris to Croydon, nobody – not even passenger and renowned private detective Hercule Poirot – is beyond suspicion.

In an engaging and ingenious plot, we follow Poirot, Inspector Japp and Monsieur Fournier in their quest to unravel this cunning yet devilishly simple mystery that makes a suspect of them all.

christie_death-in-the-clouds_fontanaA wonderfully structured beginning takes us through the varying thoughts and perspectives of the passengers aboard the Prometheus: Countess and Cocaine addict, Lady Horbury; British businessman James Ryder; crime novelist Daniel Clancy; Archaeologists Jean and Armand Dupont; Doctor and aspiring musician Roger Bryant; the Hon. Venetia Kerr; Dentist Norman Gale; Hairdresser Jane Grey and the great Hercule Poirot.

The case takes on an even more sinister turn when a native american blowpipe said to be the murder weapon is found nestled beside Poirot’s seat; the distinguished detective must undertake a fantastic journey through the streets of London and Paris if only to clear his own name.

Throughout the whole book Poirot’s views are infuriatingly cryptic – which wasn’t wholly unexpected – and in a confident explanation at the end, everything becomes exasperatingly clear, with all the subtle hints and startling revelations coming together neatly in a logical and engaging way that does not fail to impress.


We submit this review for Bev’s 2017 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt in the ‘plane’ category:


***** (3.5 fedora tips out of 5)

This entry was posted in 2017 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt, Agatha Christie, England, France, Friday's Forgotten Book, Poirot. Bookmark the permalink.

81 Responses to DEATH IN THE CLOUDS (1935) by Agatha Christie

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Well done, both! Thank you. A great review of one of Christie’s more interesting mysteries. I actually like Jane Grey’s character quite a lot in this one. And it’s such an interesting look at flying and air travel at that time.

  2. realthog says:

    I must say, the standard of reviewing on this blog has certainly been looking up a lot recently. It’s becoming hard to recall the seedy old geezer who hung around these pages like stale cigarette smoke, thrusting his “reviews” upon visitors whether they wanted them or, more usually, not. Long live the new regime, say I!

    • Thanks mate – I hope I can get the girls to contribute more often, though they just started secondary school so you may have to put up with me a little longer than any of us would like 😀

  3. Colin says:

    A neat reminder of how good Christie could be. It’s been an age since I read this book but i remember liking it a lot. Perhaps it’s time to dip into her stuff again.

  4. Santosh Iyer says:

    This is one of my favourite Hercule Poirot novels. It can be regarded as a classic locked room mystery. Murder takes place in a closed space containing 13 persons, yet no one witnesses the murder.
    Agatha Christie appears in an episode of Dr. Who titled The Unicorn And The Wasp (Series 4, episode 7). In the final scene, The Doctor shows Donna a reprint of Death In The Clouds from the year 5 billion ! (indicating that Christie’s work would never be forgotten).

  5. tracybham says:

    This is a fine review and entices me to read the book soon. It is perfectly timed for me. I have just finished The A.B.C. Murders and did not realize I had skipped Death in the Clouds. I will go looking for a copy to read.

  6. littlemisscrime47 says:

    Hi, I’m littlemisdcrime47. Thanks for the awesome comments on my review! Sergio has been so awesome to me over the years and taught me so much and this post was inspired by him 🙂 thanks for the comments

  7. neer says:

    She has already read Carr, Marsh, and Queen!! Wow and Double Wow!!!!!!! While going through the review, I was reminded of the excitement I used to feel whenever I picked up a Christie. Very finely written.

  8. Great review! One of my favourite Christies (I was probably about the same age as the reviewer when I first read it!) so I’m glad it still appeals to a younger generation!

    • Thanks Karen – I think she really enjoyed it (more than the Queen I suggested) – really curious what she picks up next! I don’t think Golden Age detectives have displayed her love for Katniss (yet) 🙂

  9. I’ve read nearly all of Agatha Christie’s novels. Christie’s consistency was at it’s height in the 1940s. Some of Christie’s work in the 1930s was very good, too. Nice review!

  10. Great review – nice reminder of a classic Golden Age Christie, with all those details of the early days of commercial air travel. We hope you’ll be a frequent gatecrasher on Sergio’s blog: it’s so nice to see a new generation of crime readers coming along. A lot of us started reading mysteries when we were your age, but we had no outlet back then to find other fans and write about and share our views. So we hope you’ll make the most of your internet opportunities!

    • Thanks for stopping by Moira – I’m sure the little mite will get to answering here and on her own blog soon 🙂

      • hayesmilligan says:

        Now, of course, you’ve put me on the spot Sergio and I’m not sure that I can really substantiate an off the cuff remark. There are a group of books that seem to be about big conspiracies, rather than country house who-dunnits, and it is those I’m referring to. I have the impression that they are later in the oeuvre. Bad books I can think of are Postern of Fate (1973), Passenger from Frankfurt (1970). Can anyone else help me or am I talking nonsense?

  11. This was a very nice review — move over Sergio! I wouldn’t have been able to write a Christie or any other book review in four paragraphs. And I haven’t read a lot of Christie or any of Carr, Marsh, and Queen. So this is a wake up call for me.

  12. JJ says:

    Imagine — Death in the Clouds isn’t even really in the upper half of Christie’s ouput…if she enjoyed it this much, think of the delights that lay ahead…!

    • I may not entirely agree with you on that as Iike it a lot but yes, plenty of classics ahead though some can be creepy and we are avoiding that for now.

      • JJ says:

        Okay, I slightly modify that claim: with 10 Christies still to read, there are about 35 I’d rate higher than Death in the Clouds. So it is in the top half. But it’s in the bottom half of the top half. And, in fact, in the bottom half of the bottom half of the top half. But not the actual the bottom half. 🙂

        • You don’t give up easy, so you JJ but I will stand by my guns on this … I only like a couple of hers from the 20s and 60s so easy for me to narrow it down somewhat. But can I do a top 10 off the top of my head? Not sure – not really that big a fan though I have read them all …

          • JJ says:

            Oh, no fear, I’m not trying to change your mind, I just know that in three years from now I’ll say something about DitC and someone will go “Well, there was that comment of yours at Fedora where you said it wasn’t in the top half…”. And we can agree that your niece is doubtless gonna love Peril at End House, Evil Under the Sun, One Two Buckle My Shoe, The Moving Finger, Murder is Easy, and others where Christie really flies… 🙂

          • True enough – when she’s a bit older then And There Were None and some of the later Poirots but I reckon anything from the 20s and 30s won;t otherwise seem too intense (I think Orient Express can seem ghoulish and creepy potentially – or is that just me?)

          • JJ says:

            Ha, yeah, maybe a bit ghoulish. It’s also quite a dull and static book (which makes the continued filming of it — Kenneth Branagh’s got a version coming out — a complete mystery to me), with lots and lots and lots of interviews that don’t exactly compel it as a first-rate reading experience. But, man, her head will explode with amazingness if she gets to read it without knowing the ending…

          • I know she’s seen the 1978 movie DEATH ON THE NILE and found it a bit creepy (I think it’s a great film) and better than EXPRESS. Annoyingly, on a long car journey, to keep them distracted on a long car journey, I told my nieces the story of JUDAS WINDOW but it turns out they still remember that and the title of the book, so I stole that from her already – really annoyed about that! I really like Branagh, so I hope he can make something decent out of it, where all the previous versions are basically dull though the 1974 version had such great music and star wattage that you could forgive a lot!

          • hayesmilligan says:

            I remember approaching my first Christie (aged 11/12) very nervously (I had already read all of Austen so I was not an unsophisticated reader) because I did not want to be frightened. I was a bit upset at the end because I had rather fallen for the murderer but I enjoyed it (HDD) enough to go on to more. Endless Night really upset me and Ten Little.. scared me but I don’t think that any of the Poirot or Marple books scared me as one had the safety of their presence distancing you from the horror. The one that moved me most was Sad Cypress and I did not read Roger Ackroyd till later. I much prefer the GA puzzles to modern psychological mysteries. I need the right order back in place to be able to go to sleep! Rosemary

          • Thanks very much for that – I know exactly what you mean. I think THE HOLLOW for instance might be a bit ‘heavy’ compared with ABC for example?

          • Brad says:

            I certainly didn’t censor myself throughout my teenaged years when it came to GAD. But I can’t help feeling damned lucky that I didn’t read, say, He Who Whispers till I was a big boy, and I stopped short of recommending that particular title to your niece. The mystery is just fine, but what elevates HWW to greatness has to do with the nature of Fay and the other characters. I think most people would appreciate Five Little Pigs, Sad Cypress, and Taken at the Flood, amongst others, when they were older. I know how glad I am to have re-read all three.

          • FLOOD is another that might be a bit dark and sense, do you think?

          • hayesmilligan says:

            Yes except I think the poor little salesman in ABC could be a bit frightening? Rosemary – I see I come out as hayesmiligan in some and Rosemary in others – must be to do with whether I’m on pc or ipad!

          • We are all very informal if confused here Rosemary 😀

  13. Jeff Flugel says:

    Great review of a great book! I think this is one of Christie’s greatest unsung mysteries, ingenious and fun, unfortunately not done justice at all by the flat Suchet TV adaptation.

  14. Dave says:

    Wow, it’s amazing that your niece has read such a lot of GA mysteries by such a young age. She must have read more than me!

  15. Enticing review of a Christie classic, your nieces are SO talented, Sergio. I enjoyed the book much more than the television adaptation which downplayed Jane Grey’s background – she is one of Christie’s better heroines and I didn’t like to see her short-changed in the adaptation. The ending too wasn’t as satisfying as in the book.

    • Thanks for that Yvette – well, of course, I am convinced that I have the bestest nieces in the universe. I clearly have to re-read the book and re-watch the film version!

  16. Brad says:

    What an erudite young lady, Sergio! I just commented on her post about Crooked Hinge. She is a reader of fine taste! As the Christie end of the big kerfuffle about to happen over at JJ’s place, I hope she can read a few more by the time we get to our face off and join my side! (Although a “battle royale” between Carr and Christie has to end in a draw; they’re both too fabulous at what they do!)

    As for Death in the Clouds, I think it’s a pretty underrated second tier Christie. It’s rare that Poirot announces at the beginning that he knows the solution based on one set of criteria; I know I combed through those luggage contents furiously when I first read this one. And the ending is a fine double bluff. I’ve already written some comments about it for my next Tuesday Night Bloggers post. I very much enjoyed reading littlemisscrime’s commentary!

  17. Matt Paust says:

    You and the Talented Tot are exasperatingly funny, Sir Sergio. A new and highly popular calling I surmise. Well done!

  18. This is one of my all-time favorite Christies!

  19. Pingback: 2017 Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt Wrap-up | Tipping My Fedora

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