Death in the Clouds
From seat No.9, Hercule Poirot was ideally placed to observe his fellow air passengers. 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 detective writer was being troubled by an aggressive wasp. What Poirot did not yet realize was that behind him, in seat No.2, sat the slumped, lifeless body of a woman.
Reviewed on 22nd December 2010
This Poirot novel, set in 1935, has an interestingly different tone. Poirot is on the plane with the murderer, and so the case is something of a closed box in that all the suspects are known immediately, much like Orient Express.
There is no-one to play the Watson role in the absence of Captain Hastings and so the narrative flicks around the characters with surprising ease, depicting each scene in turn from a different point of view, minimising our time in Poirot's head so as not to give the reader too many clues. The internal dialogues of the characters play a large part in this which gives it a different flavour which seems unusual at first but soon slots into place.
The story is a good one, in keeping with the traditional ideal of presenting all the clues to the reader so that they can try to guess. I didn't succeed in solving the crime, Despite several of the clues and red herrings being rather obvious. The insertion of an author of detective stories as one of the suspects is a stroke of comic genius on Christie's part, which she uses to gently poke fun at her own chosen genre.
Overall, an enjoyable light read and certainly one f the better mysteries Poirot has solved.