A Miss Marple mystery.
Publication year: 1953
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 1982
Page count: 263
Publisher of the Finnish translation: WSOY
Finnish translator: Eila Pennanen
It’s been quite a few years since I read a Christie novel but I have watched most of the Poirot movies. This book reminded me that I should start reading Christie again.
Rex Fortescue owns a veritable financial empire but now he’s dead, murdered in his own office. Strangely, rye is found from his pocket and nobody seems to know how it got there. Inspector Neele is assigned the case and he starts to investigate the Fortescue family. Then, more people are murdered.
It turns out that Mr. Fortescue wasn’t a well-loved man. In fact, in the recent year he has started to act so strangely that his firm is on the verge of bankruptcy so many people could benefit from his death. He has three children from his previous marriage: Percival, Lancelot, and Elaine. Elaine is in love with a man her father doesn’t approve of and Lancelot is the bad boy of the family who has angered his father so much that the son moved to Africa. Percival is the good boy who runs the firm together with his father but they have been arguing a lot lately. However, after Lancelot married, his father wrote to him and wanted to reconcile matters with him. Mr. Fortescue’s second wife is a lot younger than him and has a affair with another man. Percival’s wife seems also quite unhappy. And of course, the old, very religious Aunt Effie lives in the attic and doesn’t approve of what the rest of the family are doing. Mary Dove is the very efficient housekeeper who keeps her emotions in check and the house running smoothly. Some of the rest of the staff is also suspected.
The book is full of red herrings and strange twists. A very satisfying mystery. Inspector Neele is described as looking stupider than he is and he has a way of letting people talk. He’s also quite competent and intuitive. Still, he’s quite hopelessly lost before Miss Marple comes along, near the end of the book.