From seat No. 9, Hercule Poirot is almost ideally placed to observe his fellow air travelers on this short flight from Paris to London. Over to his right sits a pretty young woman, clearly infatuated with the man opposite. Ahead, in seat No. 13, is the Countess of Horbury, horribly addicted to cocaine and not doing too good a job of concealing it. Across the gangway in seat No. 8, a writer of detective fiction is being troubled by an aggressive wasp. Yes, Poirot is almost ideally placed to take it all in--except that the passenger in the seat directly behind him has slumped over in the course of the flight . . . dead. Murdered. By someone in Poirot's immediate proximity. And Poirot himself must number among the suspects.
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William Morrow Paperbacks
January 01, 1987
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Excerpt from Death in the Clouds by Agatha Christie
Paris to Croydon
The September sun beat down hotly on Le Bourget aerodrome as the passengers crossed the ground and climbed into the air liner Prometheus, due to depart for Croydon in a few minutes' time.
Jane Grey was among the last to enter and take her seat, No. 16. Some of the passengers had already passed on through the centre door past the tiny pantry-kitchen and the two toilets to the front car. Most people were already seated. On the opposite side of the gangway there was a good deal of chatter -- a rather shrill, high-pitched woman's voice dominating it. Jane's lips twisted slightly. She knew that particular type of voice so well.
'My dear -- it's extraordinary -- no idea -- Where, do you say? Juan les Pins? Oh, yes. No -- Le Pinet -- Yes, just the same old crowd -- But of course let's sit together. Oh, can't we? Who--? Oh, I see...'
And then a man's voice -- foreign, polite:
'--With the greatest of pleasure, Madame.'
Jane stole a glance out of the corner of her eye.
A little elderly man with large moustaches and an egg-shaped head was politely moving himself and his belongings from the seat corresponding to Jane's on the opposite side of the gangway.
Jane turned her head slightly and got a view of the two women whose unexpected meeting had occasioned this polite action on the stranger's part. The mention of Le Pinet had stimulated her curiosity, for Jane also had been at Le Pinet.