Book Review: Death in the Clouds (1935)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1935 murder mystery written by Agatha Christie.

Synopsis: A French moneylender and blackmailer, Madame Giselle, is found dead on a plane traveling from France to England and detective Hercule Poirot, also a passenger, determines she has been murdered by a poisoned dart. When a blowgun is found behind Poirot's seat and a grand jury nearly indicts him as a result, the famed detective takes it personally and tries to determine which passenger is a murderer and, just as important, how that person killed Madame Giselle without being seen.


After taking a short break from Agatha Christie novels, I decided to get this book on Kindle last week, largely because I remember it being mentioned in a Doctor Who episode. I wound up finishing it last night (while, once again, sitting at an ice rink) and have to admit the book exceeded my expectations.

When I first started reading this book, I was somewhat doubtful about it. This is because, after the first few chapters, I was convinced I had figured out who the killer was and, as a result of that, I temporarily lost interest.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

However, as I continued to read the book, I realized Christie was working extra hard at this mystery and my original theory wasn't nearly as sound as I thought it was. In fact, I must confess, even after "amending" my theory a couple of times based on new evidence, I wasn't even close to identifying the real killer.

I think the thing that really helps this mystery is the lack of information about the victim. All anyone knows about Madame Giselle is she loaned money to rich people and used their deepest, darkest secrets as collateral. However, since she had her assistant burn all her papers upon her death, Poirot can only guess at who her clients were. This, along with the mystery about her past life, left a lot of room for a suspect to come out of nowhere.

The way she was murdered also proved to be much more complicated than I originally thought. I kind of figured the blowgun behind Poirot's seat was a red herring. But, there were a number of ways that dart could have struck her, including being shot from any pipe-like object (like a cigarette holder) to being stabbed into her by hand. This ultimately created a lot more suspects on the plane than I first thought.

The part about the bee being on the plane was also interesting. At first, I wasn't really sure if it had anything to do with Madame Giselle's murder. But, since Poirot kept bringing it up, it was obvious he believed it did and, since I had no idea why, it did keep me reading.

Death in the Clouds: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries)

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 q...

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Final Opinion

I had some doubts about this book when I first started reading it. But, it turned out to be a better mystery than I was expecting and would be among my favorite Agatha Christie novels as a result.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 03/13/2018, StevenHelmer
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