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4.7 out of 5 stars48
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 27 January 2006
When a rich man dies under very mysterious circumstances, Miss Marple becomes interested. However, when she begins to really follow the details of what has happened, she quickly realizes that more murders are sure to follow. This is a very deep mystery, and only Jane Marple can find out what is really going on and why!
Jane Marple was the literary creation of that most famous of English mystery writers, Agatha Christie (1890-1976). For those of you unfamiliar with Miss Marple, she was your stereotypical elderly spinster-lady, who loves to gossip and grow her flowers. But, even more, she has a razor-sharp mind that she uses to solve mysteries, using her own brand of lateral thinking that allows her see clearer than anyone else around her.
This is actually Agatha Christie's sixth Miss Marple novel, written in 1953. (The first one was The Murder at the Vicarage (1930), and the second one was Sleeping Murder, which was written in 1940 but locked away to be published after Ms. Christie's death in 1976.) Overall, I found this to be a fascinating read. If you love a good mystery, then get this book - it is a great mystery, one of the best ones ever written. I give this book my highest recommendations!
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on 11 September 2007
This is a brilliant miss Marple novel and it is one of my favourite Agatha Christies books. It isn't too complicated but it is not simple either.

It is about the leader of a financial industry ( Rex Fortescue ), who gets poisoned during work and dies shortly after. The obvious suspect is his wife but is this actually the case? Two more murders shortly follow and miss Marple is called in to help the investigation. She quickly discovers that the murders are following the nursery rhyme Sing A Song Of Sixpence.

The clues are, a connection with the blackbird mines and a family called the MacKenzie's, Rex's will, why the murderer chose to kill according to the rhyme. There are lots more clues aswell.

I think this is a great book and most people will really enjoy it. If you like this type of book, another equally brilliant one, that is similar to this one, is Crooked House.
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Rex Fortescue dies shortly after drinking his morning tea. The post mortem reveals he was poisoned with yew berries or leaves. But there was no trace of poison in his office where he was taken ill. The police are baffled as they cannot work out how and when the poison was administered. It is easy to see where the poison could have come from as his home is surrounded by yew trees. But why does he have some rye grains in his pocket and how did they get there?

His family are not altogether sorry to hear of his death but they are not happy to discover that they are the first on the police list of suspects. When Rex's grieving widow and a parlour maid are found dead Miss Marple takes an interest and turns up at the house because the dead parlour maid used to work for her.

I enjoyed this book and was completely wrong about who the murderer was though it was easy to see how it was done and who was responsible when all was revealed by Miss Marple. As a portrait of a strange family the book is fascinating and all the characters, however minor, are well drawn.

If you like your crime novels in the classic mode then you really cannot beat Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and Dorothy L Sayers.
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Almost every formula, idea, and trick that Agatha Christie used in her detective fiction works proved to be entirely successful and won her an enormous reading public. Making use of nursery rhymes was one such formula. Nursery rhymes can reawaken the sense of wonder, mystery and enchantment in any reader. They also can carry symbolic levels of meaning, and some are allegories.
In this her 1953 offering she makes use of the nursery rhyme "Sing A Song Of Sixpence". Appropriately it is one of her Miss Marple books. Although her elderly spinster sleuth has little to do here, and is late making her appearance, it is she who perceives and urges the significance of the nursery rhyme. "Don't you see, it makes a pattern to all this."
The murders occur in the disfunctional family of Rex Fortescue, a financier, and the action occurs in his London office and in the family home, Yew Tree Lodge. The opening chapters are wonderfully engaging. Agatha Christie, when she took the trouble, could sketch characters vividly. Amongst all of them in this book, there are not more than a handful of suspects. To compensate, Mrs Christie throws in buckets full of red herrings.
You'll enjoy the puzzle, and having innumerable theories suggested and dismissed. The solution, when it comes, however, is no more plausible than is the likelihood of a blackbird pecking off a maid's nose.
If you can obtain the unabridged reading of the book by Rosemary Leach, your enjoyment will be enhanced. Rosemary Leach is unusually skilled at "doing" the voices of a large cast of characters, male and female.
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on 8 February 2013
This is one of my favourite Miss Marple novels. A businessman gets murdered and then a step mother and maid who Miss Marple has trained. Miss Marple goes to stay in the family home and assist the police. Miss Marple stumbles upon a lot family secrets that they would rather keep hidden.

One of Christie's best Miss Marple novels. Very easy to read. Would recommend.
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on 4 August 2009
Rex Fortescue was the King, dead in his counting-house, a handful of rye in his pocket. Poor Adele was the Queen, eating bread and honey. Nursery rhymes served Agatha Christie well, sparking her imagination and providing scope for clues and red herrings alike. A Pocketful of Rye has clues and red herrings galore, but something is missing. It almost feels as though Christie was on autopilot when she wrote this; the writing is flat and uninteresting, the characters, though varied as one would expect from this writer, less well-defined than usual. It is a clever mystery, but not one of her best.
11 comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Almost every formula, idea, and trick that Agatha Christie used in her detective fiction works proved to be entirely successful and won her an enormous reading public. Making use of nursery rhymes was one such formula. Nursery rhymes can reawaken the sense of wonder, mystery and enchantment in any reader. They also can carry symbolic levels of meaning, and some are allegories.
In this her 1953 offering she makes use of the nursery rhyme "Sing A Song Of Sixpence". Appropriately it is one of her Miss Marple books. Although her elderly spinster sleuth has little to do here, and is late making her appearance, it is she who perceives and urges the significance of the nursery rhyme. "Don't you see, it makes a pattern to all this."
The murders occur in the disfunctional family of Rex Fortescue, a financier, and the action occurs in his London office and in the family home, Yew Tree Lodge. The opening chapters are wonderfully engaging. Agatha Christie, when she took the trouble, could sketch characters vividly. Amongst all of them in this book, there are not more than a handful of suspects. To compensate, Mrs Christie throws in buckets full of red herrings.
You'll enjoy the puzzle, and having innumerable theories suggested and dismissed. The solution, when it comes, however, is no more plausible than is the likelihood of a blackbird pecking off a maid's nose.
If you can obtain the unabridged reading of the book by Rosemary Leach, your enjoyment will be enhanced. Rosemary Leach is unusually skilled at "doing" the voices of a large cast of characters, male and female.
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on 31 December 2013
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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on 13 October 2011
Miss Marple, the amateur detective decides to leave her village to investigate the murder of Rex Fortescue and two members of his household.

When Rex Fortescue dies suddenly in his office Inspector Neele is called to investigate the death. It is found he has grain in his pocket and then there are two further murders at his house including Gladys, found with a peg stuck on her nose.

Miss Marple, angry at the cruelty shown towards Gladys (her former housemaid) travels to the house to help investigate the crime. Inspector Neele is intrigued when Miss Marple points out that the deaths follow a pattern in a children's nursery rhyme.

Trying to identify the murderer is difficult because there are many flawed characters in the Fortescue household. The book is well written and will keep you guessing who the murderer is until the end.

The story is dated so aspects of the story do appear old fashioned. Also the idea that an old woman could turn up at a house and start helping with a murder investigation may appear farfetched to some people.

This is one of my favourite Miss Marple novels. Trying to explain why a series of murders relate to a famous nursery rhyme makes the book hard to put down.
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on 20 October 2012
Here Ms Christie treats us to an extreemly inventive murder mystery. The killer uses the nursery rhyme "Sing a song of sixpence" to provide the means to dispose of the victims. Said victims come from the Fortesque household at Yew Tree Lodge, a country pile where the resident family are rich and pampered and spoiled to death. It is also a household of bitter conflicts, family feuds and sibling rivalries. Agatha is at her best when conjuring up images of the characters within her stories and here we are treated to such a selection. Indulged wives, disgruntled daughters, squabbling sons, the traditional batty aunt in the attic, a scheeming housekeeper. mentally challenged housemaid and fiesty cook and butler couple. Once the murders begin and Inspector Neele has his investigation underway, its not long before Ms Marple gets wind of the goings on up at Yewtree Lodge and just has to pop along to have her say. Pure genius and so many comedy moments in this tale especially the banter between dear Jane and the batty aunt in the attic! Fabulous, you will love this.
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