21 October, 2009

Book 26 - A pocket full of rye, or: "I simply can't swallow this nursery rhyme business."

I'm so sorry! I have spent the last three weeks working on a research proposal, which left me with very little time for doing any non-research-proposal-related writing. Actually, I spent about two weeks doing the proposal, and one week doing a different assignment that I didn't have time to do because of the time I was spending on the proposal. That's the magic of university!

BUT I am all done with due date now until next February, which leaves me plenty more brain-room for books, and the reviewing of. Today we have the promised Agatha Christie write-up! It's only short, because I'm only just getting back into the swing of things, and my brain still feels a little bit like a lump of cottonwool.

Title: A Pocket Full of Rye (1953)

Author: Agatha Christie

Why this book?
Yes, it's another Agatha Christie. Yes, I'm now a Christie addict. Don't judge me.

So what's it all about anyway? When Mr Fortescue dies horribly after drinking a cup of tea, foul play is immediately suspected - especially after his pocket is found to be full of rye. Someone has poisoned him - but who? There's certainly plenty of suspects. There's his wife, who's having an affair; his two sons, who he constantly played off against each other; and his daughter, who he refused to let marry the man she was in love with. And if that wasn't complicated enough, then the Fortescue's maid is found dead in the garden - with her nose cut off. Inspector Neele does his best to sort through the lies and motives, but he is more than happy to accept the help of Miss Marple when she arrives on the scene. What do these murders have to do with a children's rhyme? Or is this about something else entirely?

The Good and the Bad Sadly, Miss Marple takes away more from this mystery than she gives to it. Inspector Neele, we're told from the beginning, looks completely uninspiring but is in fact a fairly astute detective. He proves to be a very good detective, but not quite capable of the leaps of logic that is required of any truly excellent mystery solver in Christie's world - that's where Miss Marple comes in, of course. Unfortunately in this case, what that means is that we see Neele's thought process, we get to know him, and then every time he hits a dead end Miss Marple pops up to give him a clue, and then fades into the background again. Her place in the book is more like that of a plot device than an actual character, and it's exceedingly annoying.

One thing I did like about this book was that for once everything wasn't tied up all neatly at the end. Oh, sure, you find out whodunnit and why, but Inspector Neele doesn't have enough evidence to put the murderer away for it - yet. It's going to take time, and a lot more hard work. The ending is also pretty sad - it's obvious that no surviving members of the Fortescue family are going to lead very happy lives, even after the murder has been solved.

So, should I read it or what? Despite my dislike for the story's style, I nevertheless enjoyed the actual mystery. I definitely wouldn't recommend it for a Christie newbie, but for the experienced Marple reader it's still worth a go.

Later this week, probably: vampires (and no mention of the T-word, I promise)

Link of the day: Upside down dogs. Oh internet, you really do have everything a girl could ever want (and more!)


Nan said...

Very interesting and good review. I am a first time visitor, brought here from the AC blog carnival, and I'll be back! I read this book a while back, and if you want you may read my writeup:


HelenB said...

Thanks Nan - loved your take on the book!

Sadako said...

Upside down dogs is so my new favorite cute site, replacing Cute Things Falling Asleep and Cute Overload! :D