Classics Circuit: Agatha Christie and Death in the Air

When my grandmother died, we had a ton of books to go through. Granted, most of them were Harlequin romances (at one time, she subscribed to like 3 different lines, that’s like 18 books a month! And she read and KEPT most of them!) but hidden inside the upper shelves were some treasures.  She had what I strongly suspect is the complete (1st edition) set of the Pollyanna books by Eleanor H. Potter, many MANY Zane Grey’s (my Papa was a fan), and a few Agatha Christie’s.  I brought Pollyanna and Agatha home with me.  And maybe a couple Zane’s, just for sentimental sake.

Now, I’ve read all the Pollyanna’s.  But I haven’t touched the Agatha’s.  For some reason, I had it in my mind that I wouldn’t like Agatha Christie, which is absolutely preposterous, I suppose.  Obviously her books are extremely popular, but I have never read a piece of detective fiction I was all that crazy about (Sherlock Holmes aside.  That man holds a special place in my heart).  I’ve always wondered about her though, so when the Classics Circuit decided to do Agatha Christie, I jumped on in, to finally bite the bullet and see what’s so great about Ms. Christie.  I looked at the three books I had, Death in the Air, Murder in Mesopotamia, and Murder in the Calais Coach, picked the cleanest one (because wow, are they old and dirty!) and dived in.

Now, my copy is so old (it was published in 1935), it has the original title.  If you go look up Death in the Air, most of the hits come back Death in the Clouds.  Its pages are yellow, the type is…like…a typewriter (!) which I love to pieces, the cover is a lovely shade of blood red….  From page one; the stage was set for me to love this book, based on looks alone of course.  So, how did it the writing measure up?

The September sun beat down hotly on Le Bourget aerodome as the passengers crossed the ground and climbed into the air liner “Prometheus,” due to depart for Croydon in a few minutes’ time.

My first line from an Agatha Christie novel!  And there is no hanging around; Christie immediately gets down to business.  All the suspects are introduced, even as the crime is going down.  The crime is not described at all, but it’s happening as the players are being set.  Brilliant! What’s even better?  The famous Hercule Poirot is also aboard the plane!  Christie sucked me right in.   And the crime?  Famous money-lenderer to the rich and titled, Madame Giselle has been poisoned.

Da da dum!

With a poisoned South American blowdart dipped in snake venom!

“This object, gentlemen, is the native thorn shot from a blowpipe by certain tribes-er-I cannot be exactly certain now if it is South American tribes or weather it is the inhabitants of Borneo which I have in mind.But that is undoubtedly a native dart that has been aimed by a blowpipe, and I strongly suspect that on the tip is the famous arrow poison of the South American Indians,” finished Hercule Poirot.  And he added, “Mais enfin! Est-ce que c’est possible?”

Each passenger is examined and a few have a possibly motive, but the opportunity is hard to discover.  After the jury at the inquest finds that murder was committed, by person’s unknown, Poirot, his friend Inspector Japp, and a french officer named Fournier split up the suspects and begin to investigate.  Poirot reminds me so much of Sherlock Holmes.  He gives off an air of…oh…”I already know what happened, I’m just looking for the clues to confirm it” kind of air.  Love it!

Death in the Air was pretty much what I was expecting and more.  I am surprised by just how much I enjoyed this book! The writing is pretty much what I was expecting, but the tongue-in-cheek humor…  I should have know, it being a British book and the British having that unique sense of humor, but I was surprised.  For instance, one of the suspects, Mr. Clancy, is a detective and crime fiction writer.

…I don’t think it’s healthy for a man to be always brooding over crime and detective stories.  Reading up all sorts of cases.  It puts ideas into his head.”

“It is certainly necessary for a writer to have ideas in his head,” agreed Poirot.


As for the mystery?  I read with my trusty notebook, taking notes, doing my own detective work–and I was wrong!  I did not guess the murderer, like I thought I would.  My first Agatha Christie was exciting, fun to read, and I will be reading more.  I’m so glad I joined the tour and finally found out what reading a Christie was like!

Death in the Air
Death in the Clouds
Agatha Christie
Category: Detective Fiction/Mystery
Published by: P. F. Collier & Son Corporation
Format: Hardback
Pages: 304
On Sale: 1935

For other stops on the Classics Circuit Age of Detective Fiction tour, please visit below.

16 thoughts on “Classics Circuit: Agatha Christie and Death in the Air

  1. I haven't read any Agatha Christie for years, but I used to read her voraciously and found her books to be greast fun. (These days I'm more into Sayers and Allingham.) I thought I'd read this one, but the plot doesn't ring a bell at all–I think I'd remember a poisoned dart! And I love that you took the whodunit aspect seriously enough that you took notes. Christie's crimes are just so ingenious. In all the books of her that I've read I only once figured it out.

    Thanks for joining the Circuit!

  2. Very impressed that you took notes! I always mean to do that but rarely do. I think I've read all of Christie but it's been years — I'll have to read this one again. Maybe I'll have to try Pollyanna too, there are so many children's classics that I've somehow missed. Thanks for the review.
    .-= Karenlibrarian´s last blog ..Found books =-.

  3. I just read my first Christie for the Circuit, too, but mine didn't have Poirot in it. I think I need to read one of his mysteries!

  4. I recently told my mother that I've never read any of Agatha Christie's work and she was appalled, since these books were some of her favorites from her childhood. I really do need to make the time to try one of these books. I love that you read your grandmother's copy.

  5. It's been a long time since I read Christie but this one seems to be shown every month on T.V. here. I often watch it, although it's murder, it's also comfort viewing somehow. I've never heard of anyone taking notes, but I love the idea of it. I love Poirot but I tried Conan Doyle just once and couldn't get on with him at all. Maybe I should give him another go. Thanks for the review.

  6. I loved your story about your edition of the book, Heather. I've yet to read any Christie, but I think that as long as I don't approach her with the wrong expectations (like expecting it to be like Sayers, which I keep e
    hearing she's not) I'm going to find her great fun.
    .-= Nymeth´s last blog ..Just in Case by Meg Rosoff =-.

  7. Glad to hear you enjoyed "Death in the Clouds." If you like Poirot, you might want to try "The ABC Murders," written the next year (1936) – Poirot takes on a serial killer; it's one of Christie's most ingenious plots. My favorite Christie, though, isn't a series book – it's "And Then There Were None," which is an incredibly tight, suspenseful story: ten people find themselves trapped in a lonely house on a remote island – and then someone begins murdering them, one by one. But there's nobody else on the island…

  8. I was holding my breath through the first part of your post – hoping to hear you liked Agatha Christie. I'm so glad you found it fun and that you could detect the humor in the story. Those three books were a wonderful legacy from your grandmother. I'm sure she would be happy to know you enjoyed the books.
    .-= Margot ´s last blog ..Movie Review: Babies =-.

  9. I think that Death in the Air was the first Agatha Christie novel I read and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    I love the story behind the actual book you read — it just goes to show how timeless books can be.
    .-= Suzanne´s last blog ..Library Loot May 19-25 =-.

  10. Those are some real treasures. I'm so glad you were able to get them as they certainly mean more to you than they would to just some random person. I have seen the film version of Death in the Clouds, and enjoyed it, but haven't read the book. Cool that yours is so original that it has the original title.

  11. The story behind your choice makes it so special. It's been a long time since I read an Agatha Christie but I used to love them for the British humour and her ingenious plots. I'm tempted to read one again.
    .-= Cat´s last blog ..Spotlight Series: NYRB =-.

  12. I'm glad you enjoyed your first Agatha Christie book! I love her and hate that she gets a bit of a bum rap. My dad bought me a collection of her books when I was in junior high and I love curling up with one on a rainy day. I haven't read this one though; I'll have to add it to my TBR pile!
    .-= Lindsey Sparks´s last blog ..Mini-Reviews =-.

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