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A Murder of Magpies

(Sam Clair #1)

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  2,908 ratings  ·  621 reviews
A whip-smart, impeccably crafted debut mystery, A Murder of Magpies takes readers on a whirlwind tour of London and Paris with an unforgettably original new heroine

It's just another day at the office for London book editor Samantha "Sam" Clair. Checking jacket copy for howlers, wondering how to break it to her star novelist that her latest effort is utterly unpublishable,
Hardcover, 277 pages
Published February 24th 2015 by Minotaur Books (first published March 20th 2014)
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Evelyn There are two more - A Bed of Scorpions (2016) and A Cast of Vultures (2017).

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Average rating 3.37  · 
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 ·  2,908 ratings  ·  621 reviews

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Mark Bruce
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Pet peeve: when the title of the book has nothing to do with the content. It is never explained why this slight mystery refers to magpies in the title, as there are no references to magpies in the book, not one.
You will say, this is a quibble. I respond: it is indicative of the general confusion of the book.
The first person narrator is an editor at an English publishing house. She tries to charm you with a world weary humorous tone but it never really convinces you. The mystery is some confused
Jody McGrath
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Samantha "Sam" Clair is a middle aged editor who specializes in women's fiction, except for 1 client who does exposes, Kit Lovell. Kit is also one of her good friends. When he submits his next manuscript, it is a whopper. It talks about murder and money laundering. When Kit disappears and Sam gets burgled, suddenly, Sam's life isn't so predictable anymore. With the help of Inspector Jake Field and her solicitor mother, Helena, Sam is determined to find her friend and get this book published.

I re
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
A library patron recommended this & assured me that it is "laugh out loud hilarious!" I could use a laugh, so, here goes.... Sadly, I am lacking in humor it would appear. ...more
Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fabulous read. Reaction soon. Still laughing.

Well, here it is. And this little gem! I nearly gave it a 5. Only subplot crossover complications kept it at a 4.5 star for me. I will absolutely read others by Judith Flanders. Hope this is just the beginning for this level of sharp.

The entire book is Samantha (Sam) seeking out (amidst her job which incurs tons of travel and meet/greet) one of her client authors who has gone "missing". She is a publishing editor in London and he is the author for one
Olga Godim
Feb 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries
I received this ARC from the publisher through Netgalley.

An average cozy mystery, this book features an unusual protagonist—a book editor. Sam’s main concern at the beginning of the novel is the latest manuscript of her star writer. Then another of her writers, a fashion journalist with a penchant of digging dirt on high couture, goes missing, and she decides to investigate. Or rather to ask questions in places the police wouldn’t go.
Despite the engaging premise, the story was slow and a bit du
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Witty publishing world mystery with intelligent, independent (only occasionally grumpy) midlife female main character

Since Samantha (Sam) Clair is a non-flashy middle-aged woman who works as a book editor and lives a quiet somewhat solitary life with just a few close friends, people tend to seriously underestimate her intellect, her powers of observation, her pointed sarcastic wit, and her won’t be brushed off or appeased determination. When one of her authors goes missing and police seem more i
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The story is set in the London publishing world. Samantha "Sam" Clair, the protagonist, is a book editor and the narrator. Her client, Kit Lovell, goes missing. Kit is a fashion journalist at the Sunday News whose dishy manuscript on the fashion industry has also disappeared. Inspector Jake Field shows up at Sam's office to investigate.

I enjoyed Sam's voice. I was immediately drawn in by both her humor and by the vivi
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Am I the only person that hopes that this will become a series?

Other than the complete confusion I had with the money-laundering scheme, I really enjoyed Samantha Clair as a lead character. There was something refreshing and endearing when a character in an “almost” cozy mystery uses her brain and not just her love interest to help her solve a mystery.

Book editor Samantha Clair is in a difficult position when her bestselling author submits a book that is almost too awful to print. She will have
DNF so no rating

Great premise, a heroine I could relate to and a cozy murder series I had hoped would live up to the “blurb.”

Nope— too many characters, too many wandering anecdotes and baffling choices by our heroine.

Moving on.
A Murder of Magpies was a very well-written and gripping start to a series that I know I'll keep up with.

I really liked Sam, she was smart and bold, but unlike many MCs I've read she didn't think that she knew everything and she was not perfect. Her sarcastic sense of humor and her hilarious comebacks had me laughing out loud throughout numerous portions of the book. I also loved Jake and Sam's mother, both were also funny in their own way, and I absolutely loved the way Sam's mom knew everythin
Jan 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an opportunity to read an advance copy of A Murder of Magpies. I really enjoyed it. It's a light literary mystery set in contemporary London. Sam -- the protagonist -- works for a publishing company, and through one of her authors and his manuscript she gets too close to a potential murder, disappearance and money laundering. The story is fine, but what makes this book worth reading are the characters and excellent writing. As a single, late thirties, ...more
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: crime-mystery
I simply got so bogged down in the superfluous details of lawyers' firms names, company names, town and country names, extraneous chit-chatted about names, building styles and features, writers' and publishers and gossipy chitchat that I almost forgot that there was a plot, a mystery afoot and even something supposed to less than charmingly look like a witty courtship. There has been such high praise... But I missed the boat on this one. I'm much happier riding around with Jilly Cooper, who has ...more
Merril Anil
Aug 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: e-book
Talkative Magpie

I will admit that the book had some killer funny bone but then towards the end that very bone was killing me and not at all in a fun way.

The central character was a pleasure to be around as her wit and sharp tongue would make you rolling on the floors but after sometime you feel like stuffing her mouth and yelling "SHUT UP" because she is making your ears bleed with constant chatter. Its like she has to have a say in everything. Even in life or death situations, she can’t stop
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
First off, I want to say I'm giving this book 4 1/2 stars, but this site doesn't allow it. Okay, now with the review.

Don't let the title or cover fool you. This is not a lighthearted cozy romantic mystery. I just loved that the Sam wasn't totally agonizing about whether he loved her or not. She is a more professional and mature person which for me means less agony as a reader. Not that That is a bad thing, it just sometimes gets in the way for me.

This was a very well written book, so much so t
Oct 22, 2016 rated it did not like it
When the main character gets "caught" by the bad guy.....and you HOPE he kills realize you may hate the book.... ...more
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
Think there was too much build up about the humor in this mystery. My expectations were high. But A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders did not come through for me.

The beginning introduced Sam or Samantha Clair, a middle aged book editor whose usual days are filled with meetings. A police inspector comes to her office and asks her questions about a missing manuscript. She meets with Kit Lowell, a gossipy, fashion journalist who has written an unusual rich and famous book that points to a family
Cathy Cole
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Reading A Murder of Magpies will make you feel as though you've just been dished some of the juiciest dirt on the publishing business, and author Judith Flanders has found the perfect character to tell us all about it. Sam Clair has an infectious snarky wit that's almost impossible to resist. She is a very self-contained character who, for some reason, has chosen to live her life on the outside. It can't have everything to do with her annoyingly perfect lawyer mother Helena, and I'd love to know ...more
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
I'd really have to give this 3 and 3/4 stars. I grabbed this off the library shelf in hopes of an entertaining quick read, and it was just that and more.
It is not just another daily grind for book editor Samantha Clair, who seems to not know what's going on. She totally misses the boat in her judgement of the latest book by her " cash cow" author who for the last 2 decades has pumped out a best seller, and second guesses a tell all fashion book by good friend Kit, that might just involve espion
Susan Barton
I picked this book up from the 5.98 table at a local bookstore. The interior cover made the book sound uproariously funny, with a side of mystery. I loved the idea that the story is based on the publishing business. Unfortunately, I should have checked the reviews before making the purchase because A Murder of Magpies definitely does not deliver the goods.

This was a difficult book to slog through. The author's constant attempt at humor simply came off as snarky nastiness. Apparently, everyone be
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, fiction, library, mystery
I'd file this with cozy mysteries, but the smart and sarcastic banter takes it up a notch. The author is a nonfiction academic, and that shows through a bit with the details, but I'm truly curious to see how she develops as a writer and hope there will be followups to this mystery. That said, if anyone can tell me how the title ties back to the story? That'd be great. I loved the cover and the titled but couldn't quite figure it out. The book definitely has a great series of quotes though. A quo ...more
Cher Staite
Mar 31, 2019 rated it did not like it
This novel about an editor desperately needed an editor. The premise was so good but the implementation was so sad. I felt almost uncomfortable reading the narrative. On and on she went—trying so desperately hard, to be witty and sarcastic and cool that she came off as pathetic loser screaming for attention. I kept thinking "enough already" with the tough chick verbal diarrhea. Shut up and Google a good analyst then get on with the story.

I was so looking forward to a murder mystery set the cut
Jamie Collins
2.5 stars. A quick, pleasant read - a contemporary cozy mystery with a splash of romance. The author has taken the axiom of “write what you know” to heart by making her heroine a book editor at a London publishing firm.

Sam Clair mostly handles “women’s fiction”, but one of her authors is a fashion journalist who writes “quick and dirty low-downs on the rich and famous”, and his latest manuscript contains some serious accusations of wrongdoing, which has attracted some sinister attention. When th
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
I had heard quite a bit of praise for this book so I decided to take it out from the library to see what all the fuss was about. Immediately I loved Sam's sense of humour - dry with a side of sarcasm. Just how I like it. I also liked that she was a forty-something professional who worked in a book publishing company as an editor. Is that a dreamy job or what?

I found Flanders writing to be light ... for the first part of the book anyway. I thought that the idea of fashion journalist Kit's disappe
Samantha ‘Sam’ Clair is a thirty-something book editor at a publishing house in London. When her friend and eccentric author, Kit Lowell, writes a tell-all book about the fashion industry and then disappears, her quiet, predictable life is turned upside down. Teaming up with her mother, high-powered lawyer Helena Clair, and the handsome inspector Jake Fields, she soon finds herself involved in more than just a missing person’s case but an international criminal ring.

First let me say that I abso
Feb 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I liked this mystery and I don't know why but I'm on the fence as to whether it's a cozy or not. Whatever it is, one thing is clear, Sam is a great protagonist to follow and she brings the wit. It was a nice look in at a publishing house and the characters that populated her office were worth meeting. I really enjoyed the turn the Toujours Twenty-one book thread took by the end. I liked Kit and was really hoping things would turn out okay for him as he's our main victim in the mystery. I also en ...more
I really enjoyed this. It was a good, solid and entertaining mystery story.

First off, this has humour, which is always a mark in a book's favour for me. This book was set in England, so it has the added positive that the humour is the dry, British sort that particularly tickles my funny bone. I love the slightly "off" way the Brits have of looking at the world and responding to the ridiculous, and that kind of humour is very much in evidence in this book.

I also liked Sam as a main character. She
Flanders took a break from Victorian history to produce this contemporary mystery. Luckily, it’s not half-bad. The plot is very similar to The Accident by Chris Pavone, though. It’s set in a publishing house, where news of a controversial new book leads to disappearances and maybe even murder. I liked the London setting and the neurotic female protagonist, forty-year-old editor Sam Clair (“I’d won Olympic medals in fretting”); she reminded me of the main character in Cinema Lumière by Ha ...more
A nice introduction to a potential new cozy mystery series. I very much enjoyed meeting Sam Clair -- an editor at a small London publishing house, her organized and astonishing legal eagle mother, Helena, as well as her smart PA, her new policeman boyfriend, and charming upstairs neighbor, Pavel.

While the cast is strong, the mystery itself was both too complicated and multifaceted to work nearly as well -- I found myself lost in a sea of names of firms, and minor characters. Flanders, who has m
Jan 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-reader, net-galley
I struggled to put this book down. It was fascinating to locate a crime thriller in the world of publishing, which gave the story a unique twist. I enjoyed the writing tremendously, really engaged with the main character, Sam, and thought the story a delight from start to finish. I so hope that it is the first of a series, because I would like to spend more time in the company of Sam, her intimidating lawyer mother Helena, her friend Kit, lovely neighbours, assistant Miranda and police contact ( ...more
❂ Murder by Death
Nov 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cozy-mystery
I've got Ms. Flanders' non-fiction in my TBR pile as I've heard excellent things about her writing, but I was in the mood for fiction, so I picked this up first. I hope her non-fiction is as engaging and entertaining and this was. I liked the characters and I really liked the spare, blunt dialog. The plot was interesting and clever, but I loved reading about Sam's time at work the best. I hope there's more to come.

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Madison Mega-Mara...: #208 - A Murder of Magpies 1 3 Dec 03, 2015 10:40AM  

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Judith Flanders was born in London, England, in 1959. She moved to Montreal, Canada, when she was two, and spent her childhood there, apart from a year in Israel in 1972, where she signally failed to master Hebrew.

After university, Judith returned to London and began working as an editor for various publishing houses. After this 17-year misstep, she began to write and in 2001 her first book, A Cir

Other books in the series

Sam Clair (4 books)
  • A Bed of Scorpions (Sam Clair, #2)
  • A Cast of Vultures (Sam Clair, #3)
  • A Howl of Wolves (Sam Clair, #4)

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