This one was really good! I think it might be my favorite of the Miss Marple books I’ve read so far, which is about half of them. (Until now I liked A Murder is Announced the best, because it had so much of Miss Marple in it, but this one barely features her at all, and it was quite good, so who knows what my standards even are anymore.)
This is one of her infamous nursery rhyme mysteries (I think she did three or four of them? which is why it was so fun to see Magpie Murders take that on as well; that book really is a great homage to Christie). “Sing a song of sixpence, a pocketful of rye . . .” I thought the rhyme was worked in rather cleverly. The whole mystery is just very, very solid, and more important than that, interesting!
Rex Fortescue dies of poisoning over his morning tea at the office, a handful of rye found in his pocket. Inspector Neele has to meet the whole rather unsavory Fortescue family, who all congregate on Yewtree Lodge. There are disinherited sons, dirty money deals, gambling debts, secret boyfriends, affairs . . . the whole works. But I had a grip on exactly who all the characters were the whole time. They all had nice psychologies that made for one of her more weighty reads, emotionally speaking. I felt for them, even the worst ones (well, except for one).
I also did not figure out the murderer, and not only that, it came as a genuine surprise to me, for reasons I can’t say without spoiling anything. So: SPOILERS Christie spends the whole book making you like Lance, the disinherited son, who apparently has a very solid alibi, and she throws a shit ton of red herrings at you the whole time, all of them plausible. He was one of two people I was absolutely certain didn’t do it (the other being his wife, again because of their alibi of not being in the country for the first murder). Oh, how wrong I was. And then when it was all revealed (by Miss Marple of course, it was very pleasurable to see everything I’d missed) END SPOILERS. Really, it was the emotional connection that was key. The last two books of hers I’ve read (Murder on the Links and The Big Four) I did not care about the characters at all.
I do recommend the audiobook, narrated by Richard E. Grant. He does a great job.