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In the novel A Pocket Full of Rye, Professor Bernsdorff is a pathologist at St Jude's hospital who discerns the cause of death of Rex Fortescue.

One year before the events of the novel, Professor Bernsdorff and Inspector Neele had been brought together over a poisoning case, and they remained on friendly terms after that.

After Rex Fortescue's death, Professor Bernsdorff tells Inspector Neele that It is a very interesting case. He says that Rex was poisoned, and that the poison was likely taxine, which is very unusual. He is not sure that he would have recognised it, if he had not seen a case of poisoning by taxine a few weeks before, when some children used yew berries for their dolls' tea party. He had not heard of a case where taxine was used for deliberate poisoning, before encountering Rex's case.

Professor Bernsdorff also tells Inspector Neele that taxine would have taken a few hours to work, and it's action would have been slower if he had a hearty breakfast. The taxine could not have been in the tea which Rex drank at the office.


Professor Bernsdorff does not appear in the BBC 1985 adaptation of the novel which formed part of the Miss Marple series. His role is partially taken by that of Dr French.

In the ITV 2008 adaptation of the novel (Episode 1, Season 4 of Agatha Christie's Marple), the part of Bernsdorff (given as Bernsdorrf in the end credits) is played by Edward Tudor Pole.