Monday, August 22, 2011

A pocket full of Rye by Agatha Christie

This one was written in 1953 and is a typical cozy English mystery with lots of murders and even more suspects, the title and cover of the book are highly attractive.
A Highly successful Banker after drinking a cup of tea falls seriously ill and dies within hours from poisoning, the banker's pockets are found to be full of rye!! no one knows why there was cereal in the dead man's pocket until his wife is also poisoned eating bread and honey and his maid is found strangled with a clothes pin on her nose, Miss Marple deduces that someone is arranging the murders along the nursery rhyme Sing a song of Sixpence, is someone extracting revenge on the family? or is there a madman on the loose or something even more sinister?

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.

This is the third book that I have read in the Miss Marple series and my interest in the series has only increased, the difference between Miss Marple and other detectives I feel is that she is not all over the place she appears in parts briefly in her books and then comes in the end to provide an elegant solution, here in A Pocket full of rye I don't think she makes her appearance before the first 125 pages. The book in it self is a nice read, the characters are well written and interesting. The mystery is intriguing and the plot with victim having his pocket full of rye is quite enthralling, I would highly recommend this book to someone who is new to the genre but for me I was able to figure out the Identity of the murderer halfway through the book, once I'm able to figure out the Identity of the murderer and then it is corroborated, I feel a little disappointed that is because I love to be surprised by the twist endings. that said the book is still very interesting and Miss Marple books are supposed to be workable, light and easy mysteries. 

Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

Where can you find it: this is easily available in local bookstores and can also also be ordered online from Flipkart.

Monday, August 15, 2011

And So To Murder by Carter Dickson

And so to murder by John Dickson Carr was written in 1940 at the early stages of the second world war, this is NOT a locked room mystery and like many Carr books this also has a lot of Anti-Nazi themes (which is not surprising since Carr was a part of the English Governments propaganda for the Allies i.e. US, UK, France and the rest of the West), but the underlying theme of this book is not War but Movies and the Film Industry in merry old England, Carr takes us through movie sets and characters typical to the Film Industry.


Monica Stanton, the pretty and rather naive daughter of a British clergyman, is the author of a surprisingly scandalous best-seller. As a result, she's been hired as a script writer for Albion Films, working with William Cartwright, a script writer from the world of detective novels.

However, she's not going to be working on her own novel—she's helping Cartwright adapt his latest detective novel, “And So To Murder”. Tilly Parson is a dumpy, bustling chain-smoking American woman in her early fifties who is the highest-paid scenario writer in the world, imported from Hollywood at great expense to adapt Monica's novel.

Glamorous movie star Frances Fleur, whose punctilious husband Kurt selects all her parts, will be the star. Against the backdrop of Pineham Studios and Fleur's current movie, a series of mysterious attempts on Monica's life begin—they are exceptionally nasty and completely inexplicable, involving sulfuric acid.

When someone poisons Tilly Parsons' cigarette and nearly kills her, Sir Henry Merrivale helps Chief Inspector Masters to bring home the crimes to their unlikely perpetrator.


To begin with I have a complaint with Carr, I think Carr broke a rule of the Fair play detection which is rule number 8 "The Detective is bound to declare any clues which he may discover", I think Carr cheated on this one by giving the murderer a very strong alibi and then falsifying the alibi, I can't reveal the exact details cause this is a spoiler free blog, besides that I thought the writing was poor and since there was no murder committed it can't be termed as a murder mystery and with all the talk about movies, Nazis and poisons this seems more like a James Bond novel then a John Dickson Carr, Carr should stick to Locked room mysteries, this is Carr at his weakest only good thing is the humor in the book especially between the idiotic Director and his Assistant.

Ratings: 2 out of 5

Where can you buy it: it's in print and you can get it from any online book selling website like Flipkart or Infibeam.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

She Died a Lady by Carter Dickson

Carter Dickson is the Pseudonym of John Dickson Carr, Carr wrote this in 1943 at the height of the second world war and the overtones of the second world war cannot be missed in the book. There are constant references to the fuhrer of Germany in the story and the impending doom of the arrival of the Nazis on sleepy English villages acts as a tension builder in the novel.


Rita Wainwright is having an affair with a man fifteen years younger then her, she and her lover decide to commit suicide by throwing themselves over the edge of a cliff but when there dead bodies are found it is concluded that they have been shot at close range through the heart, there are only two set of footprints on the spot of the alleged suicide and no way of anyone climbing behind them from a 70 foot cliff, did they commit suicide? or were they murdered by someone who floats in the air?
Henry Merrivale is at hand to Investigate.


Another baffling mystery by Carr, this one has loads of humor as HM is confined to a motorized wheel chair after hurting his big toe and has many jocular incidents where he is cursing and bumbling in his invalid state. The mystery is intriguing and very well written, certainly one of Carr's most loved works and less gimmicky.

The solution in the end is satisfactory and well explained, also guessing the murderer is not easy, if someone has read "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" by Agatha Christie then the identity of the murderer might come to them like it did to me(this is not a spoiler). You have to be vary careful with Carr he leaves clues in the story line and he leaves them in a such way that you are sure to miss them and then it turns out that those clues lead to the murderer, it will be a very careful reader who will guess Whodunit


Where can you buy it - This is in print and you can get it for Rs 550 from flipkart or infibeam

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie married archaeologist Max Mallowan in 1930 (she was 40, he was only 26 -- Go Agatha!) and thereafter spent months at a time every year (with the exception of some years during WWII) in the Middle East on digs. She wrote many of her novels in a small mud closet with only a card table to hold her typewriter and a wooden chair to sit on. The locals actually considered her very extravagant for this. She also helped clean, sketch and photograph the artifacts they uncovered.

she now used her experience in Iraq to write a character study of the interplay of personalities on an archaeological dig. The characters of Dr. Eric Leidner and his wife Louise were based on people Christie knew in real life, famous archaeologist Leonard Woolley and his wife Katherine.


Louise Leidner--"Lovely Louise," as she is known in Iraq--is a compelling woman. She is beautiful, intelligent, and confident--but she's also a bundle of nerves. She hears tapping on her window, sees ghostly faces hovering outside, and receives threatening letters which may or may not be written by her supposedly dead former husband. Nurse Amy Leatheran--sensible, experienced, kind but tough, has been hired to be her companion, and acts as our narrator as well.

It's really no surprise when Louise is murdered early one afternoon. After all, this charismatic woman has been adored and reviled in equal measure--often by the same person!--by everyone on her husband's archaeological dig. All have a motive, all have the opportunity...and most have an alibi.

What's the local constabulary to do but call in Hercule Poirot, passing through on his way to Baghdad. Poirot, always up for an intriguing case, enlists Nurse as his assistant, and together lead to a most surprising conclusion.


Christie attempts a locked room mystery with this one, and to me her solution leaves a lot to be desired, this is not Christie's strongest work. I for one could not believe when the murderer is revealed not only is the hidden identity of the murderer improbable but also illogical, I mean Louise would have to be blind to not have noticed who the person behind her grievances is and also the book talks about tension among the group in the dig but the tension is never felt in the book by the reader, although I liked the characters in the book and pace of the novel but the revelation in the end is absurd.

Ratings: 2.5 0ut of 5

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