Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie

Cover of A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie
I’ve been in the mood to read some Miss Marple mysteries, and I started the second in my group of library books: A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie. This book fell in the collection of Christie books that used a nursery rhyme in the plot of the book. In this case it was Sing a Song of Sixpence. Rex Fortescue died in his office at drinking tea, and when the police checked things out, they found loose grain, rye, in his pocket. This puzzled the police, and since Rex died from taxine poisoning (from yew trees), they took the investigation to Rex’s estate, Yew Tree Lodge. Rex had a much younger wife, an adult son and daughter, and an estranged son in Africa. Could it be the wife? Nope, because she died a few days later at tea. Then the maid, Gladys, was found dead near the clothesline with a clothes pin on her nose. The last really irritated Miss Marple, who trained the maid in St. Mary Mead. Of course, Miss Marple recognized the situation for what it was, a devious twist to the nursery rhyme:

The king was in his counting house,
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlour,
Eating bread and honey.
The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes;
When down came a dickey bird
And pecked off her nose.

Of course, Miss Marple made the trip to Yew Tree Lodge and figured out whodunit, shifting through the distraction of dead blackbirds put in a pie and on Rex Fortescue’s desk a few months before the killings. She pointed Inspector Neele in the right direction, just when he was thinking Miss Marple might be a bit past it.

A Pocket Full of Rye was published in 1953, and the mystery and writing are great! I really enjoyed the book. Miss Marple got involved in just the right amount, and the mystery was a puzzler. Since this was not the first time that I read it, I knew what to look out for, and found all the clues pointing to the murderer. Sometimes people claimed that Christie hid the clues, and then threw out the solution at the end. I can assure you that was not the case with A Pocket Full of Rye. The book was a great read, and if you pay attention, you can figure out the murderer when you read it!

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