Death In the Clouds by Agatha Christie
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 take her seat, No. 16. Some of the passengers had already passed 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 Le 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.
As part of my R.I.P. reading I knew I must listen or read at least one Agatha Christie book, and I selected one of my favorites, Death In the Clouds. This was narrated wonderfully by Hugh Fraser, who played Captain Hastings in the TV adaptations of Christie's books opposite David Suchet as Poirot. This book was originally published in 1935 and the air travel described was quite different in many ways to ours. It was more luxurious and also less, of course.
In this book, our intrepid detective is not quite as attentive as usual owing to his stomach troubles or airsickness. A woman dies during the flight from Paris to London, though she has been deceased for a while before anyone notices. It turns out the lady was a well-known moneylender. I love 'locked-room' mysteries and this one qualifies - only the passengers on the airplane could have killed the woman. Or could she have died of natural causes? Well, of course not. What would be the need for Poirot in that case? Lots of theories develop - stung by a wasp or poisoned by a thorn administered through a blowpipe? Each of these seems impossible, though a blowpipe is found. I enjoyed coming along for the ride as Hercule Poirot solves the case. A definite 'comfort' read for me (and yes, comfort reads can contain a murder!) - ha!
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.
I enjoyed this one too. Love the underlying humour Christie always injected into her Poirot books.ReplyDelete
Yes, there is always a bit of a wink or even a laugh-out-loud moment.Delete
I need to read more Agatha Christie books!ReplyDelete
I have many favorites among them.Delete
Great choice. I've read surprising few Christie books, but I've watched all.the.shows!ReplyDelete
Then you know the stories pretty well. Most of the adaptations were fairly close to the books - some not, but most.Delete
I find comfort in murder mysteries too. Nothing strange in that. At least to us. :-)ReplyDelete
Happy to know I'm not the only one! Ha!Delete
I love Agatha Christie's books! What a great RIP read. :)ReplyDelete
Yes, I think so too.Delete
I'm not familiar with this one; sounds good to me. So happy u shared!ReplyDelete
It is a good one, Diane. And I liked the added fun of the describing air travel at the time.Delete
I LOVE this book, and am so happy you wrote about it! I did a blog entry on it a few years ago here: https://lettersfromahillfarm.blogspot.com/2011/08/death-in-clouds-by-agatha-christie.htmlReplyDelete
Nan, I just went and read your thoughts on the book. Loved all your pictures of the airplane, etc. I'm never quite sure why certain Christie books are favorites, but in each of those something just clicks with me. Right now, I'm listening to Cards On the Table - another favorite of mine.Delete
It's years since I read this one - I remember the blowpipe but not much else! Time for a re-read, I think...ReplyDelete
Yes, I think you'd enjoy it again!Delete
I may not have read all of her books, but I've enjoyed those I read. And I always love a 'locked-room' mystery. :)ReplyDelete
You should try this one if you get a chance, Melody. It's a fun visit with Poirot and Japp.Delete
Its been ages sine I've reread a favorite, I really need a Comfort right now. I can see how Christie can provide that. This isn't one I've read...yet.ReplyDelete
Stacy, I really like Agatha Christie books for comfort reads. I just finished another of my favorites and will have my thoughts up tomorrow - Cards On the Table. It's very good too.Delete
Confession: I have not read any Poirot books. I saw the entire series on PBS. I forget that Christi wrote so many more books and need to try some others.ReplyDelete
Gayle, I have several favorites among the Poirot books. This was one and I just finished listening to Cards On the Table - my thoughts up tomorrow on that one. I've moved on to Evil Under the Sun. Miss Marple is my favorite character, but I do like Poirot as well.Delete
The Hercule Poirot books are my favorite by Christie. :-)ReplyDelete
I have several Christie favorites and then a bunch of 'almost' favorites. Miss Marple is actually a little ahead of Poirot in number of favs for me.Delete
What a good idea to include some Christie for your R.I.P. reading. I haven't read anything by her in a long time and I'm sure I have some unread Christie's on my shelves!ReplyDelete
I bet you do too.Delete