Percival Fortescue

In the novel A Pocket Full of Rye, Mr Percival Fortescue (nicknamed Percy or Val) is the elder son and junior partner of Rex Fortescue, the first murder victim. His father's impaired mental condition - and his threat to reinstate Percival's black sheep younger brother - give him a sterling motive for patricide.

Percival is stodgy, respectable and a very prudent businessman in his thirties. He is a "neat fair man", "with pale hair and eyelashes and a slightly pedantic way of speech".

He is married to Jennifer Fortescue. She nursed him when he had pneumonia, and he became fond of her, and proposed marriage to her. They live in a self-contained flat in the family home, Yewtree Lodge, and plan to move into their own house at Baydon Heath soon.

Percival is very careful and prudent with money, and is greatly worried when his father becomes "highly injudicious in some of his financial dealings", in the year and a half before his death. He tries to get his father to see a doctor, but is unsuccessful.

Percival is away on business when his father dies. When he returns, he tells Inspector Neele that his father's will left a hundred thousand pounds to Adele Fortescue, and fifty thousand pounds to Elaine Fortescue, with Percival as the residuary legatee.

Percival is not at Yewtree Lodge when Adele and Gladys Martin are killed, as he had been kept in town.

After the death of their father, Percival suggests to his brother, Lance, that they would not be able to work together, and should dissolve the partnership by dividing the firm's holdings. They argue, and Lance tells Percival to keep the safe investments, while he takes the speculative ones.


In the BBC 1985 adaptation of the novel which formed part of the Miss Marple series, the part of Percival is played by Clive Merrison. In this adaptation, Percival is at Yewtree Lodge when Adele and Gladys are killed.

In the ITV 2008 adaptation of the novel (Episode 1, Season 4 of Agatha Christie's Marple), the part of Percival is played by Ben Miles.

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