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Death in the Clouds by Agatha Christie

I'll admit that I wanted to read Death in the Clouds less because of my love of Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot and more because the book was featured in an episode of Doctor Who. The fact is that the story combined two things I love: mystery and the idea of a wasp as a possible murder weapon, which is one of my favorite devices in a mystery.

The premise is as classic as any of Christie's stories: a group of passengers, including Poirot, are traveling by air from Paris to London. When they arrive, they discover that one of the passengers is dead, apparently from a wasp sting. Upon further investigation, however, it seems that the real cause of death is a blowpipe dart, and the blowpipe is found under the least likely seat on the plane: Poirot's.

I usually really like Christie's books but I struggled with this one. The plot was well thought out but seemed to be stretched to fill all the pages; several scenes in the middle of the book felt really unnecessary and, even during the "grand reveal", didn't really seemt o serve any express purpose except to add to the length of the story. I genuinely liked the plot, but it could have been thirty pages shorter and still felt like a well-rounded story.

One of the things I will say for Christie is that she keeps a reader guessing. I'm from the Mary Higgins Clark school of discovering mysteries--the first mystery I ever read was Moonlight Becomes You--and got rather good at uncovering "who dun it" in that particular breed of stories. Christie is never like that, and I feel uncheated by the end of the story, for, while I might have gotten the murderer all wrong, I can work through the logic and be surprised by the things that Poirot saw that I never will.


the forest-dweller

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