Reader reviews for A Pocket Full of Rye: A Miss Marple Mystery

I definitely think that I'm starting to be able to pick up on the clues Agatha Christie gives -- or, alternately, the way she thinks: maybe the clues aren't really there, or not large enough to pick up on anyway, since when I started reading her books, I couldn't guess the culprit nearly so well.

Anyway, I liked this one, if only because it made me feel clever. I wished it had more of Miss Marple in it, though. The way she gets involved in the mysteries is getting very contrived, by this point. Which is to be expected, 'cause she can't exactly sit at home and get involved in murder mysteries in one relatively quiet little village.

I think Agatha Christie's writing is actually stronger when she's writing from first person POV, instead of third. I've found the first person stories more compelling than the third person ones, like this one. I guess because the narrators tend to have an affectionate way of looking at the people involved, knowing their weaknesses and liking them all the same, and whatever.
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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 blackbirdsBaked in a pie.When the pie was opened,They all began to sing.Now, wasn't that a dainty dishTo set before the King?The King was in his countinghouse,Counting out his money;The Queen was in the parlorEating bread and honey.The maid was in the garden,Hanging out the clothes.Along there came a big black birdAnd 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.
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City businessman Rex Fortescue has a nice cup of tea at the office, and dies of poisoning. The peculiar points to this are the poison used, and the fact that the dead man's pocket had grains of rye amongst the contents. Inspector Neele sets about investigating the dead man's household, which provides a good selection of potential suspects. Alas, one of the best suspects is next on the murderer's list, and then there's a third death.Miss Marple doesn't appear until nearly half way through the book. Her interest in the matter is the housemaid who was murdered, who happened to be one of the many girls Miss Marple has trained as a maid over the years. When she arrives to provide information on the girl's background, Inspector Neele recognises her as someone who has a great deal of common sense and the ability to get people who wouldn't dream of talking to a policeman to reveal secrets to her. The resulting interplay between Neele's investigation and Miss Marple's investigation is most entertaining. Neele's no fool, even if he's happy to play one in public, but it's Miss Marple's experience of human behaviour that allows them to unravel who, how and why.Well plotted, with one or two twists on the resolution of the red herrings which make them interesting little tales in their own right, rather than just a distraction from the true identity of the murderer.
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This is standard Christie fare, which of course means great fun and plenty of false leads as to the identity of the killer. We find an interesting puzzle built around a poisoning.
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This was a beautifully done murder mystery with an amazing puzzle, excellent characters and a perfect solution.
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When her former maid is caught up in a triple murder case, Miss Marple arrives on the scene to lend a hand.Agatha Christie is always a bit hit-or-miss, but I'd classify this one as a hit. She always does her best work when she tackles smaller, family-oriented mysteries like this one. The story itself isn't anything special in a literary sense, but I had a durned good time with it! The murders are cleverly plotted, the characters are fairly well-drawn, the family dynamics are revealed in an interesting manner, and the sleuth is perfectly chosen. Miss Marple's trademark blend of keen observation, scatterbrained social referencing and spot-on intuitive leaps works very well within this tight little mystery. Her insights help illuminate the facts in a way that makes sense but still provides the reader with some surprises.Definitely recommended to fans of old school mysteries. This book would be an excellent way to spend an afternoon or evening.
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A good Miss Marple mystery. Though Miss Marple is not mentioned in it as often as I'd expect. At the center of a mystery is a very unpleasant family. They are not very likeable characters. The plot twists got me again, and the murderer turned out to be someone I did not want it to be! The very last page is priceless. Reading the last page made the whole book worthwhile. Don't know how Christie does that...
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A very hot day, very sleepy, some Agatha Christie the perfect reading material. They are all very unpleasant people but the mystery and use of "Sing a Song of Sixpence" is fun!
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Although this is a Miss Marple story she does feel as if she has been crowbared into the plot, but its still a fun read and we get to see Miss Marple as an angry avenger of the dead, a role she takes on to great effect in A Caribbean Mystery and Nemisis
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Agatha Christie for beginners. Point One: don't trust anyone recently returned from the colonies. Point Two: anyone who buys a new pair a nylons is going to die.To criticise Agatha Christie of being formulaic is like criticising Anne Rice of being obsessed with sexually ambiguous vampires. The truth of the charge can't be denied but the accuser is missing the point. The genius of Agatha Christie lies in threading a believable motive through a morass of misdirection. Her murders work, not because they are particulary realistic or 'gritty' (the adjective of the hour for contemporary crime writing) but because they place incredible events in a mudane and credible setting. The fact that she got away with using the same narrative structure over the course of hundreds of novels, without her twists becoming transparent or her books lacking that vital page-turning ability is testament to her very great skill. Perfect sofa reading for those who enjoy sudoku, mulling over the poularity of Miley Cyrus or any other of life's great enigmas.
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