Book: Death in the Clouds
Author: Agatha Christie
Publisher: Harper Collins
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Review: ‘Death in the Clouds’ is another masterly work by the queen of mysteries Agatha Christie. It is a Hercule Poirot novel and those who have read him before don’t need any further reason as to why they should pick up this one. The eccentricities, the endearing quirkiness and the intriguing brain of this short, egg-headed man are qualities which have made him one of the most well-known literary characters of all times.
‘Death in the Clouds’ is another murder mystery which Poirot solves using his ingenuity. This one concerns the death of a woman passenger on a flight in which Poirot was also traveling. What initially seemed like a case of an insect bite turned out to be a deliberately planned diabolical murder! As the police force tries to solve the puzzle, Poirot works silently in the corridors of his own mind. The question is ‘will the murderer get away with the crime’? Eh bien, we all know that no matter how shrewd & sinister the criminal is, it is impossible to escape the ‘grey cells’ of Poirot. That’s elementary, dear Watson!
‘Death in the Clouds’ has all the ingredients that keep a reader hooked. You won’t be able to rest in peace until you reach the final chapter and hear Poirot’s much-awaited final speech, when he makes his revelation. The climax is pretty good and quite unpredictable. Thus, you will turn the final page with a sense of shock and contentment.
The characters are well sketched out. However, there is a slight dearth of emotional context. That is one reason why the reader may not feel any sympathy for the murderer towards the end. Poirot is there from the beginning (since he is one of the passengers on the plane) and so there is no dull moment in the book. The good, old Inspector Japp is also around though his role is a miniscule one in this novel. The language is simple and with that quintessential Agatha charm.
On the down side, ‘Death in the Clouds’ is not as thrilling or as readable as ‘Death on the Nile’ (where murder was committed on a cruise) or ‘Murder in the Orient Express’ (where Christie chose a train as her stage). It has a puzzling mystery which will definitely stupefy you, unless your name is Hercule Poirot. But the sub-stories are not as interesting or complete as an Agatha die-hard would like them to be. Eh bien, but it is still a good book and a must-read for any lover of detective fiction.
The bottomline is that ‘Death in the Clouds’ is not the best Agatha-Hercule book! But even a less-than-best Agatha is much much much better than most other authors. I hope you got the point, mon ami.