Agatha Christie 100 - Death in the Clouds

Another in a row of Poirot novels that are never less than solid, and frequently much better than that. Read on to see what I thought of this particular story.

The plane from Paris to London is full of passengers - among others a pair of architects, a dentist, a mystery novelist, and a certain Belgian detective. But before touching down on British soil, one of the passengers is found dead - and it looks like a suspicious death, especially once Hercule Poirot finds a blowdart next to the deceased woman.

Like Three Act Tragedy, this is another of those Poirot stories where he allows a couple of people affected by the crime to become a major part of the investigations, letting them initiate contact with other suspects. But unlike that earlier novel, in this one Poirot is a much more active participant in those investigations.

As befits a Christie novel from the mid 30s, the setup is rather lovely, and the misdirection is deftly handled by the author. The limited list of suspects that the plane provides contributes to make this one of my favourite Christies, and the final revelation of the villain is great. Sure, part of the motive for the crime is held back until very shortly before the dénouement, but overall this is very enjoyable.

I'll rate this an 83 out of 100, because there's very little wrong with it - and a lot of things that are just perfect.

1937 1961 1979 1985
The Swedish title is a variation of the British (and American: Death in the Air) title - Den flygande döden means The Flying Death. All the different title variations are good, in my opinion.

Apart from the first Swedish cover, which is another one of those lazy "title on the front page" jobs, I think we have a uniformly excellent round of covers available to us for this title. The Zebra cover from 1961 features the blowpipe and the tiny dart, while the Delfinserien cover from 1979 - which is the one I have - again uses Fontana's cover which focuses on the wasp.

Meanwhile, the mid 80s Bonniers cover (again, the hardcover version has some minor differences) has a lovely version of the airplane among the clouds. Oh, I can't choose which one I like best, they're really nice, all of them.


  1. This might have been the first Christie I solved -- I was so chuffed with myself, I really remember wishing I knew anyone who had read it so that I could talk about how I unpicked it. And 20 years later, here we are...

  2. I'm impressed that you rate your reads out of a 100. I think I would get into a terrible knot trying to figure out where the place books on the scale.

    1. It's actually something I do intentionally, because I want to rate them while they are still very fresh in my mind. And when I've done the whole re-read, I want to compare the ratings I've given to the different novels and see if there are some surprises - some novels that are ranked before others, even though I might have thought they would be ranked the other way around if I were just asked about them.

      I'm sure there'll be a couple of surprises there! :)