Agatha Christie 100 - A Pocket Full of Rye

Another story based on a nursery rhyme - one of Christie's favourite motifs - where Miss Marple has to nestle herself into one of those typical Christie families to figure out who is killing off the family members one by one.

Rex Fortescue is a businessman with a somewhat shady past and two sons, one loyal but slightly underhanded, and one with an even blacker background. There's also a disgruntled daughter, an unfaithful wife and quite a few servants that are more or less reliable. Add some rye, stir liberally and there's absolutely no surprise when Rex turns up dead.

This might be my favourite Marple novel - A Murder Is Announced is more celebrated, The Moving Finger has the best setting of all Marple stories, but this one has one of those great Christie families, a nursery rhyme to frame the whole story and one of the best hidden culprits. And there's also quite a bit of clueing, so Miss Marple doesn't have to pull a name out of a hat towards the end, which is a problem in some of her other appearances.

As usual, the police are quite relaxed when it comes to Miss Marple and her taking part in the investigation - obviously all the Slacks of the force have been weeded out.

This is a very solid 89 out of 100, which shows that Christie still had it though we've now reached her final twenty years as a writer.

1954 1964 1971 1979
1980 1988 1994
A quick translation of this novel, which also got to keep a direct translation of title. The nursery rhyme the title is taken from is unknown in Sweden, so one has to wonder what readers made of the title initially... Though it must be said that the translator makes an able attempt att translating it within the story to explain the setup of the murders - even managing to get it to rhyme in Swedish!

As with many of the covers here, the illustrator of the first edition kept the blackbirds from the nursery rhyme in mind. It's an okay cover, nothing that screams mystery really. The Zebra edition from 1964 continues the tradition that we've seen recently, of slightly garish covers. This one at least adds some rye.

The two 70s covers are both of the cartoony type, but while one of them is fine, the other is simply horrible. The all right one is the one from 1971, which focuses on Miss Marple's arrival on the scene. The 1979 one is awful, featuring a Miss Marple who has a head that is almost bigger than the rest of her body.

As we've become accustomed to, Delfinserien uses the Fontana cover created by Tom Adams. It's less impressive than some of his other creations, I feel. I don't care for the depiction of the blackbird, though the sketches of people in the background is an interesting touch. Too bad it's the one I own.

For this title, Leslie Quagraine got to make two different covers. The hardback copy from 1988 looks pretty good with the silhouette of the blackbird being created out of running poison, while the paperback edition from 1994 is a little less successful. There is too much focus on the huge blackbird, though the skull in its beak is another nice touch.

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