Book Review: A Pocket Full of Rye, by Agatha Christie

Crime fiction is a genre that’s very interesting for me. To go along with the plot and try to solve it along with the detective in the story, that’s fun. I’ve heard Agatha Christie called as the Queen of Crime, and in an earlier review, I’ve agreed with it as well. Her books are very interesting to read, and I’ve reread many and felt that the interest still holds. Of the many detectives she has created, Hercule Poirot is the one I’ve read most. This book marked my first foray into the Miss Marple series.

A wealthy businessman, Rex Fortescue, dies after drinking his morning tea, and the police are called in to investigate. After initially suspecting food poisoning, the medical examiner rules that out, and instead suggests that the man was poisoned, by taxine, a poison obtained by the leaves of a yew tree. To add to the confusion of the police, some rye is found in the man’s pocket. With murder ascertained, Inspector Neele takes charge of the investigation, and realizes that there are motives for each family member to poison Fortescue. Just as he starts to close his threads, Adele, wife of Rex Fortescue, is poisoned by cyanide. And to add to that, one of the maids, Gladys is found dead, strangled with her own stocking. Can Miss Marple, who knew Gladys earlier, help to shed some light on the murders that seem to happen for no rhyme or reason?

What I love about this story is that the Detective Inspector Neele is competent and doesn’t completely depend on Miss Marple. I enjoyed reading his ideas of the crime, and the way he went about his work meticulously. I also liked the characters that Agatha Christie weaves as family members or help, giving them motives like scorned lover, the heir to the fortune etc. leaving us to contemplate who had the most to gain by the deaths. The threads I formed in my mind were close, and followed the reasoning of Inspector Neele, but I did think I was being misled, and so it proved. What I wanted to see in the story was more of Miss Marple. She enters into the tale very late, and doesn’t play a big part in the novel until the ending, where she reveals her reasoning. One the flipside, I felt that it was one thing for Neele, who had heard of Miss Marple’s reputation in his circles, to accept her help in the case, but it felt very odd to me that a family where three murders have happened also willingly embraced Miss Marple’s entry into their midst.

For a Miss Marple first read, I enjoyed A Pocket Full of Rye. I will have to read more of Miss Marple works to explore much of the detective character of Miss Marple.


A score of 7 out of 10
A score of 7 out of 10
Book Details
Title: A Pocket Full of Rye Series: Miss Marple #7
Author(s): Agatha Christie Genre: Crime Fiction
ISBN/ASIN: 9780007299690 Publisher: Harper Collins

I own a copy of the book. The views expressed here are my own, frank and uninfluenced.


(© 13th June 2016)

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