Death in the Clouds (Hercule Poirot #12), by Agatha Christie

Eight stars

Taking to the skies, Hercule Poirot challenges himself in this next Agatha Christie mystery. Having utilised her protagonist in so many ways, Christie pushes the envelope and places the Belgian in a contained airplane when someone is murdered, forcing him to show that sleuthing is not just something done with feet firmly affixed to the ground. Christie uses her skills once again to dazzle the reader in this piece, sure to impress many.

During a flight from Paris to London, a passenger is found dead on board, a tiny puncture in her neck. While some might think that it could be the result of a wasp sting, Hercule Poirot can tell that it is more nefarious. While seated onboard, he has the perfect view of a number of the passengers and helps deduce that it was no sting.

When a blow dart is discovered in the plane, it is presumed to be the weapon used for the murder, Tipped with a deadly poison, the dart could have easily killed the woman before she had a chance to take her next breath. But who could have the motive to do such a thing? Poirot is not entirely sure, but he is ready to begin sleuthing, given the chance.

While the entire group is put through a coroner’s inquest, evidence emerges that helps put things into context. Using what is discovered to his advantage, Poirot pieces it all together and begins to get a better understanding of what happened and how the victim might have been one who was not liked by all. Slowly, the truth comes to the surface, where Poirot awaits to connect it with what he has discovered, all while using his little grey cells. Christie does well with this piece, pushing into new technologies and ideas in this piece that has a little of everything.

Agatha Christie does well to create new and exciting ways to impress readers of this detective series. She is able to use technological advances, as well as unique murder options, to keep the reader on their toes. While those who sit to enjoy the book in the 21st century may not feel as ‘electrified’ by the events, they are surely on point and mind-blowing for the time of original publication. Christie checks all the boxes with this piece, which uses a great narrative and some wonderful plot twists.

Poirot remains a alluring detective, able to pull theories out of the air, only to show how they are established as foundational. His egotistical nature is surely something that not all will enjoy, but Poirot is nothing if not a tad stuffy. He uses his silence to absorb all the clues before standing on his soap box and showing how all the pieces come together effectively. Once again, there is little outside the current events of the story that shape Hercule Poirot, which baffles me in a way. Perhaps some other readers echo my sentiments about wanting more depth and story related to this unique Belgian, rather than sticking to the periphery. Oh well… it does little to ruin the story, which I did enjoy a great deal.

Air travel is new and exciting for this novel, which Christie explores effectively. She pushes some great plot ideas for the reader and develops a strong story that develops in short order. A well-paced narrative keeps the reader engaged throughout, which is complemented by a handful of unique characters, all of whom could be the killer at one point or the other. As the story gains momentum, the plot finds itself developing at a pace perfect for the reader who have come to enjoy past mysteries. I am eager to see what else Christie has to offer and will delve a little deeper as I locate the next in the series.

Kudos, Dame Christie, for another great piece. Let’s see if you can keep pace with the next story, as Poirot is surely ready to show off once again.