Book Review

Book Review: Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Title: Magpie MurdersBook Review - Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Author: Anthony Horowitz

Publisher: HarperCollins

Genre: Crime, Mystery Thriller

First Publication: 2016

Language: English

Major Characters: Susan Ryeland, Alan Conway, Atticus Pünd, James Fraser, Mary Blakiston, Inspector Raymond Chubb, Sir Magnus Pye

Setting Place: London, England; Saxby-on-Avon, Somerset, 1955 (UK); Framlingham, Somerset, England

Theme: Village Life versus City Life; Corruption of Small Towns

Narration: Third person point of view of an omniscient narrator. And the frame story is told from the first person point of view of Susan.

 

Book Summary: Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

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.

 

Book Review: Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Susan Ryeland is the editor for the popular detective series Atticus Pund. On a rainy night, she sits down to read the manuscript for the ninth and latest installment, Magpie Murders. Set in Saxby-on-Avon, a quiet English village, an apparent murder takes place in Pye Hall.

The usual hall marks are present but just as the culprit is about to be named, the narrative abruptly stops. The final chapters missing. Matters complicate when Susan learns that Alan Conway, the author, has been found dead, an apparent suicide. Alan was a difficult person to work with but still the more Susan searches for the missing chapters, the more she doubts suicide to be the true nature of Alan’s death. Now she is chasing after two murder mysteries.

“Rumours and malicious gossip are like bindweed. They cannot be cut back, even with the sword of truth. Given time, they will wither and die of their own volition.”

‘Magpie Murders’ is a book within a book. One part is about the fictitious detective novels of the Atticus Pund series, a hugely successful franchise. While Alan Conway is a pain to work with, the hype and popularity generated by his books makes him invaluable for the publishing house.

Susan is shocked to be missing the last chapters and even more so when she learns that Alan is dead. That is the other part of the book. The apparent suicide. There is no denying that Alan rubbed plenty people the wrong way but enough to be murdered? Susan soon realizes that the key to finding out what really happened to Alan is to find the missing chapters. Though there are a lot of parallels, its done in a smart way.

“life had a pattern and that a coincidence was simply the moment when that pattern became briefly visible.”

This work is a murder combo that is both modern and contemporary that pays homage to Agatha Christie and the golden era of whodunnits. Its a smart and clever work of the classic British detective in a modern day setting. With the typical clues, red herrings, multiple suspects and as many motives.

The book is just as much about murder as it is about a writer’s ego, and the stigma the mystery genre has endured from readers and writers alike. It’s a celebration of the Golden Age mystery, the devices that make it work, and why we keep coming back for more.

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