Saturday, May 13, 2017

Book Review ~ Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

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.

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When book editor, Susan Ryeland receives the latest draft titled Magpie Murders from well-known mystery author Alan Conway, she never thought that a story would consume her life as much as this one did. 

“….how he had managed to enter my world before the thought occurred to me that maybe it was I who had entered his.”

Magpie Murders was a classic whodunnit novel starring Detective Atticus Pünd and his trusty personal assistant James Fraser.  As the two investigate two deaths – one that appeared to be accidental and another one that was indeed not an accident and extremely gruesome *shivers*, Pünd and Fraser begin tracing the clues to uncover the murderer.  In this small village, everyone appears to have a motive, so Pünd and Fraser have their work cut out for them.

Susan was truly enjoying this latest mystery novel, but when she got to the end of the manuscript, she discovers that the last few chapters appear to have been left out, leaving off in a major cliffhanger.  Left with the question on who the heck killed Magnus Pye, Susan goes to work the next morning only to discover that Alan Conway is dead – an apparent suicide and the last chapters of the Magpie Murders is missing.  So many questions, and so few answers……

Determined to find the missing chapters and have some closure on the mystery that was handed to her, Susan is determined not only find the missing work, but finds herself playing detective in a true-life mystery.  As Susan continues her quest, she finds that Conway’s novels incorporated hints to his real life embedded throughout.  Using these clues, she finds out more than she ever wanted to know and quite possibly will get herself killed in the process.  Will Susan find the missing chapters and will she finally find out who the killer is in Magpie Murders and will she uncover whether Conway was murdered or was it simply a case of clumsiness?  Well, my dear reader, it is up to you to unravel the clues and find the truth.

Magpie Murders is quite simply a brilliant story.  It’s a murder mystery inside a murder mystery.  With clues incorporated throughout, it really makes the reader think about the words they are reading and try to unravel the mystery (or two).  For this reader, I had no idea of either outcome until the very end, and in my opinion, that is what makes a good murder mystery – one that keeps you guessing right until the last few chapters are read.  With an intriguing cast of characters and storylines intermingle effortlessly, Magpie Murders is a captivating and enthralling novel that will keep the reader engaged throughout.  This novel is truly a must read for any fan of murder mysteries and if you are an Agatha Christie fan, then you will truly be delighted in this story.

Is the story within Magpie Murders life imitating art or art imitating life?  You be the call……..

4 stars

Anthony Horowitz, OBE is ranked alongside Enid Blyton and Mark A. Cooper as "The most original and best spy-kids authors of the century." (New York Times). Anthony has been writing since the age of eight, and professionally since the age of twenty. In addition to the highly successful Alex Rider books, he is also the writer and creator of award winning detective series Foyle’s War, and more recently event drama Collision, among his other television works he has written episodes for Poirot, Murder in Mind, Midsomer Murders and Murder Most Horrid. Anthony became patron to East Anglia Children’s Hospices in 2009.

On 19 January 2011, the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle announced that Horowitz was to be the writer of a new Sherlock Holmes novel, the first such effort to receive an official endorsement from them and to be entitled the House of Silk.

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