Agatha Christie: Death In the Air

Agatha Christie Makes a Mistake

Agatha Christie is well known for her “locked door” mysteries. Death In the Air is a version of the locked door. Passengers are in the air flying from France to England. During that flight a woman is murdered and everyone on the plane is a suspect, includine Hercule Poirot.

The victim, Madame Giselle, was poisoned with venom from a South American snake. The poison was at the end of an Indian thorn supposedly sent via an Indian blowpipe. The how-did-it-happen was, for me, a bigger mystery than the who-dun-it.

In the first few chapters the reader knows the archeologists have pipes, the doctor has a flute, plus there are two long cigarette holders. I couldn’t see how any one of those objects could have been used to send a poisoned dart through the air. Also, wouldn’t someone have seen an object flying through the air in a small airplane? A diagram was provided showing the arrangements of the chairs and the passengers. I studied and studied that diagram trying to figure it out.

I’m not the only one stumped by this puzzle. Readers in the past, many of them experts on the subject, pointed out that this type of poisoned dart requires a very long blowpipe. No way could that be easily hidden in the airplane. Agatha Christie actually acknowledged this blooper. She supposedly makes fun of herself in a future story. For some reason I feel better knowing that the great Agatha was human after all.

There were lots of clues and evidence to be pondered in this book. Death In the Air was a good mystery for the arm chair sleuth. By the time I got to the end, figuring out who the killer was was anti-climactic. Death In the Air is one of the books I read back in my teens when I was really obsessed with all the Agatha books. (Reading all of them again is just a mild obsession.) I remember this book, probably because of Christie’s mistake, but I didn’t remember the ending. As I said before, it was more about how did the killer do it.

I’d recommend Death In the Air to anyone who is interested in a classic, vintage mystery.

My Progress In the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge:

Many of you know I’m attempting to read all of Agatha Christie’s books in publication order. I am now 22 for 87. I’ve noticed a difference in Ms. Christie’s last four or five books. They seem to be a bit more clever, more sophisticated. My opinion is that Agatha was happier and much more confident. By this time she was divorced from Archie Christie and happily married to the archeologist Max Mallowan. Her books were doing well and I guess you could say, she was in her prime. These are certainly the best ones I’ve read so far.

If you’d like more information on joining the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge click the Agatha button above.

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13 Responses to Agatha Christie: Death In the Air

  1. kaye says:

    Agatha did like her poison, didn’t she? I haven’t read this one but it sounds pretty good. You’re doing really well with your challenge, Margot. Enjoy the next 60+ books!

  2. I can’t believe you are still going on this, but when you think there are 87….!!!!

  3. Martha says:

    What an undertaking, I can’t wait to see what you think of the rest. I always mean to read all her work, you might just be inspiring me.

    Death in the Air (or Death in the Clouds) is my daughters favorite. Do you watch the David Suchet Poirots? We love them in our house.

  4. I’ve never heard the term “locked door” mystery, but it makes total sense. I’ve only read a few and they are fun.

  5. Bluestocking says:

    This is one I definitely want to get around to reading. Eventually, when I clear off my to be read pile.

  6. Annie says:

    I don’t remember having read it, but I “watched” it in the David Suchet Poirots. I like them a lot !

  7. Belle Wong says:

    I was obsessed with Christie when I was in my teens too! This is actually one of the few titles I didn’t read until I was older (just a year or two ago, actually). Now that I’m in my 40s, one thing I really appreciate about Christie’s books is how she talks about women in their 40s and 50s as young 🙂

  8. I have such admiration for you (and the others on the challenge) reading Agatha in the order she wrote her books — and I can see how you notice the changes in her style. (I always have one or two of her books on the Kindle, but I’m just downloading them haphazardly — now I am trying to read all the Jane Marple.

    I enjoyed this review (as always). Your comment on not remembering the ending reminds me of something I read years and years ago, that if you had to be marooned on a desert isle with just one book you should forget the Bible or great literary works and take an Agatha Christie. Because she’s fun to read and you can never actually remember the ending ;>) I’ve really found that to be true in several books I’ve recently re-read. (I didn’t quite have your youthful obsession, but I did read a fair number of her books.)

  9. stacy says:

    I had almost decided to start reading these out of order, since I already have quite a few on my shelves, but your comments have me sticking with my original plan to read them order. I like that you can see the progress in her work.

  10. Staci says:

    So you’ve already read her books once when a teen??? I’ve only read one so far….I’m seriously slacking!!

  11. Yvette says:

    A terrific book in spite of the mistake. One of my favorites. The whole idea of an airplane cabin as a ‘locked room’ is brilliant. I’ve read all the Christies over the years, but there are some that I never tire of re-reading. This is one of them. The PBS Mystery entry wasn’t bad either.

  12. Scoats says:

    I too am working on reading all the Agatha Christie mysteries in order. By my count, there are 79 novel length books. My count is probably lower than yours because I omitted any short story collections that were released under different titles at different times in the US and UK.

    I agree, around the early 1930s, when I actually started getting bored of the project, Christie got really good.

    I am on book 77 (Postern of Fate) which is actually the last book she wrote. Today while reading Postern, I got to thinking “I wonder how many other people have done this?”.

    How are you progressing?

    I’ve been blogging about the reading project here. http://the3rdquarter.blogspot.com/

  13. Pingback: Review: Death in the Clouds, 1935 (Hercule Poirot #10) by Agatha Christie – A Crime is Afoot

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