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In the short story Problem at Sea, Adeline Clapperton was the wife of Colonel John Clapperton. She and her husband were passengers on board a Mediterranean cruise ship together with Hercule Poirot. When the ship docked at Alexandria, her husband went ashore for the day. When he returned, he found that she had been murdered in her cabin, stabbed through the heart.

Adeline Clapperton was described as a forty nine year old woman with platinum hair and a regal air. She went about with "the purposeful air of a woman who has always been able to pay top price for anything she needed." Adeline Clapperton had once been Lady Carrington. Her husband had been a wealthy arms manufacturer. During the First World War, Adeline, by then a widow, ran hospital for soldiers. There, she met John Clapperton who had been admitted with a flesh wound and soon they were married.

Adeline was a domineering and highly energetic woman. She was extremely proud of her hospital and asserted that, although there were nurses and matrons, she was the one who actually ran it. She also bullied her husband and made it very clear that she was the one who owned all the money. When her husband mentioned his car, she corrected him and said it was her car. Her disagreeable nature soon antagonised many passengers on board the ship. One of them, an elderly gentlemen, told Poirot that he would "take a hatchet to that woman" if he were her husband.


Adeline Clapperton was played by Sheila Allen in the film adaptation of the story which was episode 7 of Series 1 of ITV's Agatha Christie's Poirot drama series. Her backstory is altered. In the adaptation, she was born Adeline French, and her father was a senior military officer. General Forbes, a minor character in the original story, was ADC to her father when she was young and had always had a secret admiration for her. Adeline later became Lady Pardot and then, when Pardot died some time during World War I, she married John Clapperton. Adeline's disagreeable nature was also played up in the adaptation. Besides bullying her husband, she also antagonised the other passengers with her sarcastic remarks.