16 November 2012

Review: A POCKET FULL OF RYE, Agatha Christie

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 381 KB
  • Print Length: 227 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0451199863
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Masterpiece ed edition (October 14, 2010)
  • originally published 1953
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004APA52Y
  • Source: I bought it
Synopsis (Amazon)

A handful of grain is found in the pocket of a murdered businessman…

Rex Fortescue, king of a financial empire, was sipping tea in his ‘counting house’ when he suffered an agonising and sudden death. On later inspection, the pockets of the deceased were found to contain traces of cereals.

Yet, it was the incident in the parlour which confirmed Jane Marple’s suspicion that here she was looking at a case of crime by rhyme…

My Take

Agatha Christie used nursery rhymes as titles of her novels several times (Ten Little Indians, Five Little Pigs, Hickory Dickory Dock, One Two Buckle My Shoe, Sing a Song of Sixpence, Three Blind Mice, There Was a Crooked Man - have I missed any?) and they serve to add a sense of direction to the novel as well as provide a clue to the identity of the suspect.

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye;
Four and twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened,
They all began to sing.
Now, wasn't that a dainty dish
To set before the King?

The King was in his countinghouse,
Counting out his money;
The Queen was in the parlor
Eating bread and honey.
The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes.
Along there came a big black bird
And snipped off her nose!

A POCKET FULL OF RYE is set in  post World War II years, amid a really quite nasty family. It is filled with tales of frustration, revenge and greed.

Miss Marple becomes part of the investigating team when she reads that the maid at Yewtree Lodge is one of three people murdered. The maid is an orphan whom Jane Marple helped train for private service. Miss Marple is particularly upset when the maid is found with a clothes peg on her nose. She makes a train journey from St. Mary Mead via London and presents herself at Yewtree Lodge:
    Crump [the butler] saw a tall, elderly lady wearing an old-fashioned tweed coat and skirt, a couple of scarves and a small felt hat with a bird’s wing. The old lady carried a capacious handbag and an aged but good-quality suitcase reposed by her feet. Crump recognized a lady when he saw one...
The detective in charge of the case wisely decides to make use of Miss Marple's talents.
    Inspector Neele looked with some interest at the mild, earnest face of the old lady who confronted him now at Yewtree Lodge. He had been in two minds at first how to treat her, but he quickly made up his mind. Miss Marple would be useful to him. She was upright, of unimpeachable rectitude and she had, like most old ladies, time on her hands and an old maid’s nose for scenting bits of gossip. She’d get things out of servants, and out of the women of the Fortescue family perhaps, that he and his policemen would never get. Talk, conjecture, reminiscences, repetitions of things said and done, out of it all she would pick the salient facts. So Inspector Neele was gracious.
I don't think the murderer's identity came as a surprise. I was surprised that he used three separate murder weapons, albeit two of them were poisons. The maid's murder felt more callous and was certainly more violent.

A good read. My rating: 4.4
I read this as part of the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge.


Anonymous said...

Kerrie - I'm glad you highlighted this one as it's been a while since I read it. I wasn't exactly shocked by the murderer's identity either, but that didn't take away from my enjoyment of the novel. And yesh, Gladys' murder? Very cold I thought...

Nan said...

I read this a few years ago, and liked it a lot. The post is here if you'd like to read it:


I love that description of her face as 'mild, earnest'


Blog Widget by LinkWithin