This month’s challenge book needed to involve tea and the featured choice, published in 1953 was the most recent Christie I have read so far and the first to feature Miss Marple. I am beginning to show a preference for her later work, they seem more subtle with greater depth in terms of character and psychology behind the crime, although of course, I am basing this on just a handful of titles.
This one is slipping in at number 2 in my favourite Christie titles. It didn’t sparkle as much as last month’s “Murder Is Easy” (1939) but positions itself just ahead of “The Hollow” (1946). The tea makes an early appearance as it is the last thing consumed by Rex Fortescue, the head of Consolidated Investments Trust, a family business, which he has controlled by just being on the right side of the law. Inspector Neele is on the case and much of the work is done before Miss Marple makes a very delayed appearance and stays at the Fortescue’s home on the flimsiest of pretexts. Further crimes occur which appear to link to the “Sing A Song Of Sixpence” nursery rhyme or is someone just using this as a device to mask the real motive?
It’s very much a backstage role for Miss Marple here and some may say her presence wasn’t necessary but I did rather enjoy her contribution to balance out the not terribly likeable set of suspects. I thought I’d picked up on the clues and sorted out the ending but I hadn’t, so there is the pleasure of Miss Christie outfoxing me again. All in all a very satisfactory read which will have me looking forward to next month without blowing me away on this occasion. June’s challenge is to pick a book which features a garden.
A Pocket Of Rye was published in 1953. It is available as a Harper Collins paperback. I read it from an omnibus edition of Miss Marple novels (number 2) which also includes A Caribbean Mystery, They Do It With Mirrors and The Mirror Crack’d From Side To Side. Further details about the Christie Reading Challenge can be found at http://www.agathachristie.com