I have recently taken on the mission of re-reading all of the Agatha Christie novels that adorn my bookshelf at home and I can gladly say that I have almost finished. To some, this activity may appear to be laborious, un-eventful and a creative means of procrastination. To me, however, this has allowed me to re-discover the beautiful novels that I loved. A Pocket Full of Rye is one of the first books of Christie’s I ever read. It was gifted to me by a grandparent who shared my love of crime fiction, and I am forever thankful to her for showing me that a life of crime (reading) isn’t as bad as it may seem.
As with many of Christie’s novels, the plot is based upon an old nursery rhyme – this is perhaps what drew me in to her writing style. She exploited the nursery rhyme of ‘Sing a song of sixpence’ and made it into a sinister motive for murder, with each verse foreboding another death, another murder.
The first murder is that of Rex Fortescue, the ruthless businessman, killed by a poison berry in his morning coffee. His wife, killed by cyanide in her quintessentially British afternoon tea, and the maid, who was strangled and left in the garden with a peg on her nose. We all love a good murder, and the novels that are packed with deaths are always the best ones, even if this is a slightly macabre thought.
The fast paced nature of the plot creates a race against time for the reader to figure who the perpetrator of these crimes are. Will it be the long suffering-son of the callous patriarch, or the naïve brother who wants to make a ‘quick buck’? Does it have links to Africa and an old mine which plagues the family for years? Whatever it is, the killer will stop at nothing to get away with it.
The best story is one which intrigues, involves and confuses the reader. This novel covers it all in one, and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for an inspiring and intellectual way to pass the time.
Words by Joe Lewin