2016 Reviews · crime · mystery

Book Review: Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Title: Magpie Murders magpie

Author: Anthony Horowitz

Published: October 11th 2016

Publisher: Orion Publishing Co

Pages: 464

Genres: Fiction, Crime, Mystery

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 3.5 stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of Moriarty and Trigger Mortis, this fiendishly brilliant, riveting thriller weaves a classic whodunit worthy of Agatha Christie into a chilling, ingeniously original modern-day mystery.

When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.

Masterful, clever, and relentlessly suspenseful, Magpie Murders is a deviously dark take on vintage English crime fiction in which the reader becomes the detective.

My review:

Magpie Murders begins with the discovery of a mysterious manuscript from a renowned detective series, which has been left unfinished after the author’s tragic death. Anthony Horowitz’s clever and compelling story is an enjoyable, novel within a novel style read.

Alan Conway is the bestselling author of a series of books featuring the enigmatic detective Atticus Pünd . Just before he falls to his death in tragic circumstances, Conway delivers what will be the last novel in this lucrative series to his publisher. However, on closer inspection, it appears that several chapters are missing. Conway’s long suffering editor, Susan Ryeland, notices the discrepancies in Conway’s last manuscript and vows to uncover the hidden last chapters. This leads Susan to conduct her very own detective work, in the tradition of Conway’s notorious Detective Atticus Pünd .

A warning, I really enjoyed my first experience reading the work of Anthony Horowitz, but if you are anything like me and skim read, this is not the book for you! I quickly discovered that this novel requires your undivided attention. The story is highly intelligent and keeping a handle on the events of two novels in one, requires one’s upmost concentration. No skimming should be attempted, as it will ensure that you get the very best out of this book – otherwise you will miss key events and clues.

Skimming warnings aside, what I loved about Magpie Murders were a few factors. I loved the Agatha Christie, cosy mystery feeling I got from reading this book, it was a joy to hark back to the days of the classic whodunit novel. This was a novel full of the key ingredients that make a god classic detective novel – suspects aplenty, red herrings and numerous possible motives for committing a crime.

Susan Ryeland, the publishing executive, is the link that moulds the two narratives together that are contained in the novel. Susan is a character I connected to. I liked the situation in which Horowitz places her in, as an experienced editor, she suddenly finds herself thrust into her own real life mystery, in which she is cast as the detective. I also loved the modern day setting – it gave the reader a no holds back insight into the modern day publishing game, which is full of manipulation and exploitation.

For those who love Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, this novel will certainly make your draw comparisons. Atticus Pünd provides the perfect send off to Christie’s well known detective. The first half of this novel really focuses in on the Atticus Pünd novel, I got swept away by the unfolding story. It dramatically stops when the pages appear missing. This is where Susan takes over, in her quest to find out how it all ends. I have to say I enjoyed this part of the novel immensely, as the pace really seemed to step up a notch. Along with Susan, the reader is able to speculate as to whether Conway’s death was murder, an accident or suicide. The ending was everything I thought it would be, confronting and dramatic. It made me realise that it was worthwhile sticking with the slightly more demanding than usual focus levels this book seemed to require.

It was a pleasure able experience to get a two for one deal, in selecting the Magpie Murders to read. With two classic mysteries at the helm, featuring two completely different detectives, enabled this novel to come across as a highly original and well executed piece of writing. Magpie Murders is a book that kept this reader entertained, as well as absorbed, well into the wee hours.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz was published in October 2016 by Orion Publishing Co.

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