Mar 08

Our Year Of Agatha Christie Covers: 1: Death In The Clouds

FT + The Brown Wedge/23 comments • 8,279 views

A brand new series in the grand tradition of the Top 100 Singles, the Periodic Table Of Pop and the Top 25 Brands. But this one doesn’t require much in the way of writing, and a pace of one a week should be simple. And we should be able to rustle up fifty two of them. In honour of Starry Sarah’s Fontana edition of Destination Unknown, with the most psychedelic cover of a book I have seen in years. Well I haven’t scanned it yet, and can’t find it on the web – but I did find this one for Death in the Sky.

Which you have to admit is pretty scary (click thru for abject terror).


This doom by giant wasp illustration was done by Tom Adams (website here) and would have been on a Collins edition in the late sixties (this version might be a slight reworking). I can’t find it in situ, but would be happy to see it.

If you have read this one, is the picture an accurate representation of the plot, I know we have a lot of Christie readers round here. And for the future let me know if you have any great other Christie covers. Or want to contribute yourself. Via the medium of the Christie Cover I think we can get a good insight into the literary, art and even political world of the 20th Century. Or just shits and giggles. Or in this case NIGHTMARES!!!


  1. 1
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 4 Mar 2008 #

    fr ted to fr dougal: “this is small but this is far away
    fr dougal to fr ted: “oh right! and what about slightly see-thru?”

  2. 2
    Pete Baran on 4 Mar 2008 #

    I get no sense of perspective here! And look, they are flying over the moon, so its probably a deadly space wasp!!!!

  3. 3
    Alan on 4 Mar 2008 #

    I just happen to have access to a massive archive of agatha covers. however the oldest ‘Destination Calabria Unknown’ i currently have is from the 70s and is a geometric fishies image. if you want it, i’ll upload and post.

    most of the covers from the 30s-50s were green coloured, perhaps piggy-backing on the penguin green crime jackets.

    maybe we never published ‘death in the sky’ as it’s not in our records :-(

  4. 4
    Pete Baran on 4 Mar 2008 #

    Also known as Death In The Air.

    Destination Unknown needs to be seen (scanned) to be believed. Nevertheless happy for you to join in on this project and perhaps even talk about about your knowledge of the art of the cover.

  5. 5
    Tim on 4 Mar 2008 #

    The only time I can recall coming across the word “Hengist” before is as the forename of the Jim Dale character, Hengist Pod, in “Carry On Cleo”. (Er, a quick search shows me he was in fact King o’the Jutes, who knew?)

    Is a Hengist someone who has v particular and traditional views on Henges (e.g. what materials any given henge is made from)?

  6. 6
    Alan on 4 Mar 2008 #

    nothing for ‘death in the air’ either. there is a record of a 1967 edition of DU – but no cover in our archive… yet.

    Bonus Fontana fact – the Fountain logo was designed for Collins by famous weirdo Eric Gill. I’ve recently seen the logo back on some HC book jackets.

    That fishies dsign turns out to have been a “Christie” style used for all her books at some point in the 70s.

    WAIT ‘Death in the Clouds’ found it! All quite prosaic covers (that we have). The earliest being a generic green ‘Crime Club’ design. The most recent featuring a SPOILAZ … ‘blow pipe’ in the hands of an air passenger.

  7. 7
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 4 Mar 2008 #

    a hengist is someone who fails to appreciate EXPERIMENTAL HORSA <— p^nk s joke of the WEEK omg *sigh*

  8. 8
    Pete Baran on 4 Mar 2008 #

    Its Fontana’s 11th Impression, 1970 (nice decimalisation price range on the back). I’ll scan it for you soon, its a trip!

  9. 9
    Alan on 4 Mar 2008 #

    after the stone/rock/henge age and the bronze age came the iron age. But who was the first ironist?

  10. 10
    Pete Baran on 4 Mar 2008 #


  11. 11
    Tom on 4 Mar 2008 #

    It’s like Lollards Days round here.

  12. 12
    Lena on 4 Mar 2008 #

    One day I hope to gain permanent residence status in the UK & for all I know they will drill me on British crime writers I’ve read. I’ve read lots of Ian Rankin, but feel Agatha could be my ace in the hole. Where should I start with her (I don’t know if stories about gigantic wasps attacking planes is the ideal first try)?

  13. 13
    lex on 4 Mar 2008 #

    the illustration is accurate insofar as in the book a) there is a plane b) there is a wasp (OR IS THERE???)

    i would venture that had the relationship between plane and putative wasp been akin to the one illustrated above, the plot would have been very different.

  14. 14
    lex on 4 Mar 2008 #

    lena, i would start with the murder at the vicarage or murder on the orient express, which are ‘classic’ christies, then go…anywhere, really, from there!

    i tried to read ian rankin but i started really hating rebus – that sort of middle-aged male grumpiness is such an annoying pose, and i tend to find any art which deals with people having mid-life crises unbearably tedious.

  15. 15
    Marcello Carlin on 4 Mar 2008 #

    It’ll be a different story when you get there, Lex, just mark (sinker) my words…

  16. 16
    Lena on 4 Mar 2008 #

    Thanks Lex!

    My favorite Rankin is actually one where he realizes he needs other people and isn’t actually the lonely miserable bastard he thinks of himself as being…I can’t remember the title right now, but it ends up with his sidekick being endangered by a madman in a plane (sans wasps).

  17. 17
    Greg Fanoe on 4 Mar 2008 #

    I just started reading Agatha Christie myself, and my brief exposure reveals that almost all of the books are interchangeably entertaining. All of the books I have have v boring covers though.

  18. 18
    Alix on 4 Mar 2008 #


    flickr group, flickr group!

  19. 19
    Pete on 5 Mar 2008 #

    Looks like someone will be ideally placed to contribute to this regular column then!

    Greg, we’ll be finding some good covers for you, there really are some bizarre ones waiting for you.

  20. 20
    jeff w on 5 Mar 2008 #

    Oops I promised Alix I would contribute to her flickr page and forgot. Will try and do better soon.

    Not that I’m anti-small animals or anything, but here’s hoping for weasel and WOL in future weeks of OYOACC.

  21. 21
    Alix on 5 Mar 2008 #

    Frankly even I forget to contribute to my flickr groups, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it!

  22. 22
    Alan on 17 May 2008 #

    ha ha ha. this cover DID ‘inspire’ the who ep!

  23. 23
    Steve Starrs on 30 May 2008 #

    Well, the UK series “Doctor Who” recently did a story set on the day Agatha Christie disappeared. The story was a parody of murder mystery stories and featured various Christie book titles in the script.

    The title of this Doctor Who story……………..”The Unicorn and The Wasp” ( The wasp was an alien lifeform ! )

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)


Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page