Posted in Mystery, Rated E

A Pocket Full of Rye

Sing a song of six pence a pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie,
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
Wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the King?
The King was in his counting house, counting all his money,
The Queen was in the parlor eating bread and honey,
The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes
Along came a little dickey bird and nipped off her nose.

I’m sure all of use remember this little song from when we were children. In the hands of Dame Agatha Christie, this little ditty becomes a diabolical plot for murder.

Rex Fortescue, a rich businessman, is killed in his office. Oddly enough, he has a pocket full of grain. He was a right detestable fellow. The only question is why he wasn’t killed sooner!!! The police make their journey to the victim’s home at Yewtree Lodge. The suspicion falls on the usual suspects: the ultra-glam wife decades younger than him, the eldest son who was on the outs with him, a daughter who had her beau chased away by him, the disowned younger son, the unbalanced butler. Not to mention the widow and children of a man he probably left to die in Africa. The man certainly had no lack of enemies. But then there’s the question of how he was poisoned. It wasn’t in the tea, breakfast, or lunch.

The case becomes stranger still when the ultra-glam wife ends up dead in the parlor having scones and honey, and the maid is found a few hours later near the clothesline with a clothespin on her nose. The police are quite baffled. Enter Miss Marple. Miss Marple has a vested interest in finding the killer; the maid, Gladys Martin, had been an orphan Miss Marple trained to be a maid. Miss Marple and the police follow the clue of the blackbirds to find the killer.

This book was a little different from the other Miss Marple mysteries. In the other ones, Miss Marple is introduced fairly early on in the book. Most of the story is told from Miss Marple’s perspective. In this story, Miss Marple wasn’t introduced until the middle of the story. Most of the story is told from Inspector Neele’s perspective with moments of Miss Marple thrown in.
The ending surprised me a great deal. This story, like Cat Among the Pigeons, had more than one criminal plot going on. What was really interesting is that if Miss Marple had waited a day or two before going to Yewtree Lodge, she would have known who the murderer was from the beginning. It was ironic. Anyway, this is definitely one you should get from Barnes & Noble.

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