Thursday, October 3, 2019

Hercule Poirot Discovers Death in the Clouds

David Suchet as Hercule Poirot.
When a passenger sitting across from him on a Paris-to-London flight is murdered, Hercule Poirot becomes determined to find the killer. It's not just a matter of bringing the criminal to justice, the timing of the crime is a personal affront to the famed Belgian detective!

Cathryn Harrison as Lady Horbury.
The victim, the mysterious Madame Giselle, turns out to be a moneylender (and blackmailer) to affluent society members on both sides of the Channel. The suspects consist of:  Lady Horbury (one of Giselle's clients), her friend Venetia, an archaeologist, a dentist, a mystery writer, and the two flight attendants. The murder weapon appears to be a poison dart shot from a blowgun. But how could anyone have committed the crime within the confines of the first-class cabin with no one noticing? As for Hercule Poirot, he was napping!

Death in the Clouds was one of three feature-length episodes of Agatha Christie's Poirot that aired in 1992 during the series' fourth season. It's a mostly faithful adaptation of Agatha Christie's 1935 novel of the same title. A few characters are omitted, but the murderer's identity, method, and motive remain unchanged. In its simplicity, Death in the Clouds is one of Dame Agatha's most ingeniously-plotted  Poirot books.

Philip Jackson as Inspector Japp.
Although Poirot's friend Captain Hastings (wonderfully played by Hugh Fraser) is sadly absent, Philip Jackson's Inspector Japp takes up the slack. The beauty of Jackson's performance is that he makes a believable Scotland Yard inspector while also supplying a light dose of comic relief. For Poirot fans familiar with Jackson's work in the series, I recommend seeking out Raised By Wolves, an offbeat family sitcom in which the veteran actor is hilarious as Grampy.

Of course, the highlight of every episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot is David Suchet's portrayal of the title character. Agatha Christie didn't live to see Suchet as her Belgian detective, but her family approved his casting. Indeed, Christie's daughter Rosalind Hicks once told Suchet: "My mother would have been absolutely delighted with what you've done." Interestingly, prior to playing Poirot, Suchet was cast as Inspector Japp opposite Peter Ustinov as Poirot in the 1985 made-for-TV movie Thirteen for Dinner.

Death in the Clouds is one of the best episodes in the Agatha Christie's Poirot series. Boasting a great setting, a clever mystery, and an impeccable cast, it's a fine introduction for newcomers and a certain delight for Agatha Christie fans.


  1. I have mixed feeling about the (admittedly few) Agatha Christie books I've read, but I've always enjoyed film/TV adaptations. Maybe it's because I have no expectations? However, this series looks especially well done, and I'm going to look for it.

  2. My evenings are devoted to crime! #TeamHercule #Poirot #worldsbestdetective #noImfromBelgium