At the beginning of the story, a certain Rex Fortescue (a supposedly rich businessman, leader of his own firm) is sipping his tea in his office when he suffers a sudden and very tragic death. After the police examines the body more closely, they found a handful of rye in one of his pockets… and no one knows what it is supposed to mean. After our -witty and reckless- murderer strikes again, Miss Marple comes to the conclusion that – similarly to what we have read in And Then There Were None – they are dealing with a crime by rhyme.
“Sing a song of sixpence,
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 out his money;
The queen was in the parlour,
Eating bread and honey.
The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes;
When down came a blackbird
And pecked off her nose.”
It’s been a long time since I’ve read any Agatha Christie and it’s easy to let one’s brain flow back into her story telling style. Her books do have a comforting familiarity. This was my first book from Miss Maple series. I picked up this book at random to read while traveling. This book was probably not as good as my three absolute favourites, but I would still recommend it to everyone who is looking for a good read.
One of the things I really liked about this book is that it is not a long-drawn–out story. This one is pretty straightforward as the murder happens in first chapter itself and readers are sucked into this murder mystery. Investigation is already in full swing right after the second chapter or so, keeping us all in suspense and making us guess who might have done it, as Christie’s works tend to make us feel all the time.
This is the first Marple book I have read and I was disappointed to know that the most of the Investigation is done by the police and it’s Miss Marple who helps them with the missing piece of the puzzle. The ending for me was a great surprise – a very witty and cleverly done business and I suspected someone else all along, I have to admit. (who wasn’t completely innocent either, that’s true)
To sum up, it is a well written work and is hard to put down once the first victim dies. I am sure you wont be disappointed if you treat this as a standalone Agatha Christie’s novel and are happy to get along with the investigation with Inspector Neele you wont be disappointed.
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Agatha Christie fans also read:
Agatha Christie’s – And Then There Were None
The Monogram Murders – A Review