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Susan Ryeland #1

Magpie Murders

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Alan Conway is a bestselling crime writer. His editor, Susan Ryeland, has worked with him for years, and she's intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. Alan's traditional formula pays homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. It's proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

When Susan receives Alan's latest manuscript, in which Atticus Pünd investigates a murder at Pye Hall, an English manor house, she has no reason to think it will be any different from the others. There will be dead bodies, a cast of intriguing suspects, and plenty of red herrings and clues. But the more Susan reads, the more she’s realizes that there's another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript—one of ambition, jealousy, and greed—and that soon it will lead to murder.

Masterful, clever, and ruthlessly suspenseful, Magpie Murders is a deviously dark take on vintage crime fiction.

477 pages, Hardcover

First published October 6, 2016

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About the author

Anthony Horowitz

295 books15.4k followers
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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Displaying 1 - 30 of 13,968 reviews
Profile Image for Yun.
508 reviews18.9k followers
May 14, 2022
I thought I'd seen it all when it comes to murder mysteries. But then Magpie Murders comes along and completely blows me away!

Author Alan Conway is well known for his famous Atticus Pünd detective series, so when editor Susan Ryeland receives his latest manuscript, she's excited to dig in. But it soon becomes clear that Conway enjoys hiding clues of real people inside his stories. And when she gets word that he has unexpectedly passed away, she starts to wonder. What secrets does Conway's latest manuscript hold, and could they have led to his death?

This story is set up as a mystery within a mystery. We get to enjoy the Atticus Pünd manuscript in its entirety, and its style is reminiscent of Agatha Christie. And we get the whole mystery of Conway's death, as well as how the two of them tie together. It's absolutely brilliant how the book interweaves both a throwback to the golden age of crime and a more modern take on the same genre.

The two mysteries are full of the things I love in a whodunnit: twists and turns, red herrings, and suspects that all have something to hide. The whole thing is riveting and so unapologetically fun. And when we get to the resolution, it is utterly satisfying and rewards the reader for having paid attention.

When I come across a truly clever murder mystery, I both binge read it and consciously try to slow myself down to savor each delicious detail as it comes up. Looking back on mysteries I've read in recent years, I don't think I've enjoyed any other contemporary author's take on this genre as much as Anthony Horowitz's. If there ever was a book I wish I could scrub from my memory just to have the joy of reading it again, it would have to be this one.

See also, my thoughts on:
Moonflower Murders

Hawthorne and Horowitz
#1. The Word Is Murder
#2. The Sentence Is Death
#3. A Line To Kill

Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,537 reviews24.6k followers
September 15, 2016
This is a superb and intelligent homage to the Golden Age of Crime and draws on the work of writers like Agatha Christie. It is structured to contain a novel within a novel. This means there is more than one mystery at play. Susan Ryeland is in her forties, in a relationship with Andreas and an editor at Cloverleaf Books, the publishers. She is settling down to read the latest manuscript of the Atticus series from Alan Conway set in the 1950s. Atticus is a German refugee, who has assisted the police in a number of murder cases. He has an assistant, James Fraser, and is dying from terminal cancer. This is to be his last case.

Atticus finds himself in Saxby on Avon, helping Inspector Raymond Chubb in what appears to be two murders, a cleaning woman, Mary Blakiston, and the beheading of Sir Magnus at Pye Hall. As you would expect, there are a host of suspects ranging from the vicar to the sister of Magnus, Clarissa. Mary Blakiston is a busybody who made herself privy to the secrets of many in the village. Magnus is loathed, and he has sanctioned the development of Dingle Dell which has created uproar locally. Atticus uncovers a web of deceit, fraud, and secrets galore. However, he is at the point of declaring the murderer when the manuscript ends and there are 3 missing chapters. And to top it all, the author, Alan Conway, is discovered dead, apparently having committed suicide. Cloverleaf Books is in serious financial straits and Alan is their cash cow. Susan soon becomes convinced that Alan has been murdered.

Susan turns amateur detective and goes in search of the missing chapters and Alan's murderer. She finds numerous connections between the Atticus novel, for example, Alan was also dying. There are a variety of cryptic clues and references to tube stations, Agatha Christie novels and so much more, in the Atticus manuscript. Alan is an unlikeable character and many have possible motives to kill him. Susan cannot find the missing chapters and concludes that they must contain clues to Alan's killer. Susan cannot help getting drawn deeper into investigating the mysteries but loses track of the fact there is a dangerous killer on the loose. All three mysteries are resolved simultaneously. We discover where the final chapters are and who killed Magnus and Alan.

This is a stunning novel from Anthony Horowitz. Those who adore the Golden Age of classic crime novels will love this. It is brilliantly plotted to give us a double helping of crime. Absolutely wonderful. I have no hesitation in recommending this book. Many thanks to Orion Books for an ARC.
Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,342 reviews11.7k followers
March 20, 2023

“As far as I'm concerned, you can't beat a good whodunnit: the twists & turns, the clues and the red herrings and then, finally, the satisfaction of having everything explained to you in a way that makes you kick yourself because you hadn't seen it from the start.”
― Anthony Horowitz, Magpie Murders

I'm no fan of whodunits. I've never read anything by Agatha Christie, P. D. James, Dorothy L. Sayers or Ellery Queen, not even Conan Doyle. Nor have I ever seen a film based on a whodunit. Detective stories and murder mysteries are simply not my taste.

However, I decided to listen to the audio book of Magpie Murders since the book is about much more than a murder mystery - this is a novel focusing on what it means for an author to be a writer of murder mysteries. More exactly, Magpie Murders explores a number of relationships and connections for mystery writers - to note just three: between author and audience, between author and the author's prime creation, the detective, between author and the author's overarching literary vision and self-identity as a writer.

Expanding to wider horizons, from murder mystery to philosophic and literary questions surrounding murder mysteries and their authors, Anthony Horowitz has propelled himself out into the postmodern metafictional universe of such as John Barth, Donald Barthelme and Robert Coover. Thus my interest.

A word about Anthony Horowitz. In interviews this vivacious and charming British author comes across as someone who would make a most enjoyable dinner companion, exactly the type of person a university would love to visit campus to give a talk to students on what it means to immerse oneself in literature and dedicate years to writing. He is also clear about his love for whodunits and writers such as Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle, Ian Fleming and Ellery Queen. And as Mr. Horowitz states directly – both as a person and a writer, he's exactly the opposite of complete bastard Alan Conway portrayed in Magpie Murders.

Turning to Alan Conway, we have a man who aspired to write literary fiction, to join the ranks of leading contemporary British authors such as Salman Rushdie, Martin Amis, David Mitchell and Will Self. But, alas, his serious efforts where tossed back in his face with rejection slips. Knowing Alan to be an exceptionally talented writer, his wife at the time suggested he write a popular detective novel. Alan did just that. Money and fame gushed in, enough money Alan could finally quit his dreaded teaching job and enough fame the publishing industry and the public clamored for more whodunits featuring Alan’s phenomenal Inspector Atticus Pünd, a detective right up there with the immortals, a detective to be mentioned in the same breath with Sherlock Holmes.

But money and fame came with a price: Alan Conway had to abandon his dreams of becoming a serious literary writer, another Salman Rushdie or Martin Amis. And the more whodunits he wrote, the more his readers and publisher demanded even more Atticus Pünd. Alan responds: Very well, if all you people want your silly whodunits featuring Inspector Atticus Pünd you will have them. All nine volumes. I’ll have my revenge at the end when I reveal to the world the buried code, an anagram constructed from the titles of those nine volumes I wrote for you, the hidden message: your dear Atticus Pünd, hero of heroes, mastermind of masterminds, is nothing more than a piffling poopstick (my term, Alan Conway's term is more offensive).

At this point we can ask: Why does Alan Conway judge Atticus Pünd a dunce? Pünd is an exceptional detective and wants to continue his detective work right up to the time of his death. What’s wrong with that? First, let us turn to the following quote from the nineteenth century German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer: “The wise man will, above all, strive after freedom from pain and annoyance, quiet and leisure, consequently a tranquil, modest life, with as few encounters as may be; and so, after a little experience of his so-called fellowmen, he will elect to live in retirement, or even, if he is a man of great intellect, in solitude. For the more a man has in himself, the less he will want from other people,--the less, indeed, other people can be to him.”

Perhaps it is Alan Conway’s observation that Atticus Pünd, a man aware of his impending death in a matter of weeks, is incapable of solitude and deep contemplation and thus clings to his need to play his role as detective to crack the case. And maybe Conway is extending such an immature clinging to an entire population incapable of moving on from their reading of superficial whodunits.

Another equally valid reason harkens back to Alan Conway’s childhood. As we learn from his sister who grew up with him, her brother was a victim of child abuse – abused both physically and emotionally as a youngster, much of the abuse coming in the form of repeated canings at a boarding school. Beating children was both socially acceptable and legal at the time (such punishment in England was not outlawed until 1999). To compound the problem, Alan’s abuse was at the hands of the headmaster who also happened to be his father. Now that’s an explosive combination that can’t be discounted or downplayed.

Having had such an abusive childhood and then being compelled to write about a detective rounding up clues in quaint English villages, it isn’t hard to imagine Alan Conway seething with rage at his writing desk as he pumped out whodunits, all the while his heart and creative spirit craving to write Will Self-like biting cynicism and caustic social commentary. We can picture the author fuming: “No, not this prison. I’m trapped by readers and the publishing industry – I can only write these trite detective mysteries. This is disgusting.”

Questions worthy of consideration as we read The Magpie Murders: What does it mean for an author’s identity to be inextricably entwined with whodunits and their detective? How bound is an author of murder mysteries by the public – their publisher, the media, their readers? How does their success impact their vision and personal integrity as literary artist and creator? Thank you, Anthony Horowitz, for stepping out to the metafictional land of Robert Coover and John Barth to ask such questions.

Short lively video of author Anthony Horowitz talking about Magpie Murders:
Profile Image for Julie .
3,996 reviews58.9k followers
June 19, 2017
The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz is a 2017 Harper publication.

Shrewd, cunning, intelligent, and ingenious!

I love the golden age of mysteries, but, of course, I also love present -day mysteries, too. This book gave me both of those things in one novel!

How is this for a setup?

Susan Ryeland is an editor for Cloverleaf Books. She plans to spend her weekend reading the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest Atticus Pudd mystery, entitled ‘Magpie Murders’. The reader is allowed to read along with Susan, and pretty soon I found myself enjoying an absorbing historical mystery, set in the mid-fifties, the style of which bears a strong resemblance to that of Agatha Christie. But, just as the murderer is about to be revealed, Susan makes the horrific discovery that the last few chapters of the manuscript were not included. In fact, they are missing!!

If that weren’t bad enough, she soon hears that Alan Conway is dead, after allegedly committing suicide. It is more imperative than ever that Susan finds those missing chapters, because Cloverleaf Books’ livelihood depends on it.

Her inquires soon leads her to realize ‘Magpie Murders’ holds the clue to why Alan Conway, died, and to where those the missing chapters are. To solve the true crime mystery of Alan’s death, and discover the solution to the ‘Magpie Murders’, she turns amateur detective, hoping to not only solve a crime, but hopefully, keep her publishing house afloat and save her job.

One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told.

Mysteries are my first love. I read mysteries long before I dabbled in horror, or fell in love with romance novels. I love experiencing new authors and frequently dabble in various genres and sub-genres, but I rarely ever go more than a week without reading a crime novel of some kind.

However, reading numerous crime stories for so many years has a few drawbacks too, because now I have learned the various formulas, devices, tactics and familiar plotlines, used by authors within this genre, meaning I can often puzzle out ‘whodunit’, although I may not have worked out the finer points.

This ‘occupational hazard’, if you will, keeps me on the lookout for a book or an author that can challenge me, give my brain a good workout, keep me guessing, and stun me with that ‘gotcha’ moment.

This book did all that, and kept me thoroughly entertained from start to finish, plus, I got not one, but two mysteries, which are cleverly intertwined. Okay, frame stories aren’t exactly new, but this one is genius, I tell you, genius!!

The story is chock full of details, anagrams, parallels, and crafty twists, and occasionally a bit of humor or an inside joke. It is perfect for even the most jaded mystery reader, and will certainly keep you on your toes. Despite the slightly expanded length, the story is very fast paced and hard to put down, even though I wanted to savor it as long as possible.

Needless, to say, fans of golden age mysteries will not want to miss this one, but any and all mystery lovers should give this one a try. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
4.5 stars
Profile Image for Anne.
3,841 reviews69.1k followers
October 3, 2022
Ok. So this book was made even cooler through an act of my own dumbassery.
Here's what happened:
I needed an audiobook to listen to real quick-like and this thing was (for whatever reason - more than likely a Goodreads friend recommendation that I forgot about) on my wishlist in the library. So I just downloaded it to my phone without even looking at the blurb. I didn't know who wrote it, I didn't know what it was about, I didn't know...well, anything other than it was some sort of a mystery.


So, you know how with some audiobooks there's this introduction by...someone?


Ok, that's what I thought Susan Ryland (publisher of the author of Magpie Murders) was. Yeaaaaaah, it was slightly weird when she said this book f-ed up her life, but (again) there's occasionally weird shit at the beginning of some of these audiobooks.
Then we go straight into Alan Conway’s story with detective Atticus Pünd.
Hell yeah, this was something straight out of a great Agatha Christie/Poirot novel!
Good stuff! I'm about 8 plus hours in, and completely digging the whole plot. I've got my suspicions as to the killer and I'm just waiting for the little German detective to rip the disguise off of someone and reveal the murderer.


Then, about 10 minutes before Pünd tells us whodunnit, this Ryland chick busts into the story and tells us that the she's got to basically solve another mystery before we can get back to the original mystery.
Like I said, I'm 8 something hours into this thing! What the hell?! So I finally take look and apparently I'm only about halfway through this book.
Now this isn't a spoiler. As I mentioned, if I'd just read the blurb I would have realized this was a mystery involving the editor of a famous mystery writer, and part of that mystery was the mysterious mystery involving his manuscript!


If I say anything else it will probably give the whole thing away, so I'll just stop here.
But it was a clever story within a story and I very much enjoyed it.

Samantha Bond - Narrator
Allan Corduner - Narrator
Profile Image for Meredith (Slowly Catching Up).
778 reviews12.2k followers
October 8, 2017
Magpie Murders is a cleverly crafted, superbly plotted, classic whodunnit mystery with a brilliant twist.

“Whodunnits are all about truth: nothing more, nothing less. In a world full of uncertainties, is it not inherently satisfying to come to the last page with every i dotted and every t crossed? The stories mimic our experience in the world. We are surrounded by tensions and ambiguities, which we spend half our life trying to resolve, and we’ll probably be on our own deathbed when we reach that moment when everything makes sense. Just about every whodunnit provides that pleasure. It is the reason for their existence.”

The story begins with Susan Ryeland, editor at a small publishing company, reading the Magpie Murders, which is latest book in the popular Atticus Pund mystery series written by Allan Conway. Susan lets the reader know that reading the manuscript caused her to lose friends and changed her life forever. The narrative then shifts into “Conway's” the Magpie Murders, which pays homage to great whodunnit authors, books, and detectives: Christie/Poirot, Conan Doyle/Holmes, etc.

Once Susan is finished reading the manuscript, the reader is jolted back into Susan’s story where we discover the manuscript is incomplete and Conway has died. Susan now must track down the missing chapters, which leads into yet another mystery. This book crosses the boundary between writer and reader, and allows the reader to come into the book andd play a part in the detective game.

“You must know that feeling when it’s raining outside and the heating’s on and you lose yourseflf, utterly, in a book. You read and you read and you feel the pages slipping through your fingers until suddenly there are fewer in your right hand than there are in your left and you want to slow down but you still hurtle on towards a conclusion you can hardly bear to discover. That is the particular power of the whodunnit which has, I think, a special place within the general panoply of literary fiction because, of all the characters, the detective enjoys a particular, indeed a unique relationship with the reader.”

I loved all the literary references, the red herrings, and Horowitz’s sharp wit. This is such a smart, fun read. A must read for all who love whodunnits!
Profile Image for Annet.
570 reviews713 followers
May 23, 2019
It's one thing reading about detectives, quite another trying to be one....
What a great read! Now I understand why so many people like this. A sort of out of the box Agatha Christie whodunnit but then different style. Especially the two separate stories running next to each other make it a really good read. Number of pages of this book pretty confusing because of this :-)
I hesitated about this one to start, but yes, definitely good crime read. And this writer has produced a lot of (different) work I see, so lots to explore further. It's a 4.2-ish rating for me, some parts tended to be slightly slightly boring at times... otherwise, great read! Recommended, great start of the year, 'cracking' read!

The story: Editor Susan Ryland has worked with bestselling crime writer Alan Conway for years. Readers love his detective, Atticus Pund, a celebrated solver of crimes in the sleepy English villages of the 1950s. But Conway's latest tale of murder at Pye Hall is not quite what it seems. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but hidden in the pages of the manuscript lies another story: a tale written between the very words on the page, telling of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition and murder....
Profile Image for Liz.
1,958 reviews2,402 followers
October 1, 2017

Much has been made over Horowitz’s clever conceit of a book within a book. And it truly is well done. I'm usually not a big fan of reading what I consider cozy mysteries a la Agatha Christie, even though I love watching them on PBS. But the blend of old and new worked for me.

This is a very fast paced book. The first half, the book within, switches from one person to another every few pages. Everyone has a motive. And everyone is hiding something. The “author” drops hints and clues galore. But who knows which are meaningful and which are red herrings?

The second half, is told from the perspective of Alan’s editor. His new manuscript is missing its ending and as she hunts for it she also end up investigating Alan’s death. Others think his death a suicide, but Susan does not. As Susan says “I was investigating a murder which, as far as I knew, nobody else was aware had taken place.”

Alan used people and places from his own life to populate his books. Susan uses the manuscript to ferret out clues to Alan’s life and vice versa. At times, my head spun trying to keep it all straight. This book is perfect for those who like their mysteries complicated and convoluted. It kept me guessing right up until the bitter end. This is everything you want a mystery to be !
Highly recommend.

Profile Image for karen.
3,976 reviews170k followers
February 27, 2019
fulfilling my 2019 goal to read (at least) one book each month that i bought in hardcover and put off reading long enough that it is now in paperback.

Whodunnits are all about truth: nothing more, nothing less.

thank goodness for this self-imposed 2019 project o’ mine, where i finally start chipping away at books that have been sitting unread on my shelves for years; books i bought in hardcover (sometimes on the very day they were released) and for one reason or another, never got around to reading and then suddenly time has passed, the paperback’s come out and i still haven’t read the hardcover i was so motivated to buy with MUST HAVE NOW grabby hands, and seeing them sitting on my shelves, all silent expensive accusations, makes me feel SO guilty.

but this one shall judge me no more!

i’d forgotten everything i’d ever known about this book - what its deal was, why i wanted to read it so badly in the first place, other than ‘people were dancing in the streets over it a few years back,’ and going in memory-wiped was a real treat for me.

this is one of those books that is just plain fun. to save myself time since you’ve probably already read it (or to allow you your own journey of discovery if you haven’t), it's enough to divulge that it is a mystery within a mystery written by someone who loves …wait for it… mysteries. it’s both a love letter to and a loving dissection of the genre, paying conscious tribute to mystery’s tropes and traditions: the red herrings, the clues and codes, the least-suspected suspect, the misunderstood conversation, the unseen observer - all the deductive breadcrumbs of a conventional english cosy mystery, whose most appealing feature is the relationship between the reader and the detective:

In just about every other book I can think of, we’re chasing on the heels of our heroes — the spies, the soldiers, the romantics, the adventurers. But we stand shoulder to shoulder with the detective. From the very start, we have the same aim — and it’s actually a simple one. We want to know what really happened…

here, we get two mysteries; one bound up inside the other, both literally and figuratively. (incidentally, the attention to detail of the book-within-a book was very much appreciated - ♥ the blurbs! ♥) once the second mystery hits, and the inspirations and parallels and similarities between the two start playing out, it becomes such a fun ride, and conway’s bitter humor, private jokes and judgments tucked into the story as he bites at the genre that feeds him were a hoot.

this is a fun, breezy book. it’s not reaching for the stars, but it’s a solid whodunnit with metafictional flourishes that don’t detract from the actual mystery plot(s), which are fair play, tie up nicely, and i only regret i didn’t get to read it under the proper conditions described in the book’s opening chapter:

A bottle of wine. A family-sized packet of Nacho Cheese Flavoured Tortilla Chips and a jar of hot salsa dip. A packet of cigarettes on the side (I know, I know). The rain hammering against the windows.

And a book.

What could have been lovelier?

alas, i had to settle for dunkin’ donuts coffee, a rattling subway car, interruptions by buskers with keytars and loud cellphone conversations in a variety of languages, and zero cigarettes or booze. #StillShePersisted

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Candi.
607 reviews4,582 followers
October 18, 2017
"A bottle of wine. A family-sized packet of Nacho Cheese Flavoured Tortilla Chips and a jar of hot salsa dip. A packet of cigarettes on the side (I know, I know). The rain hammering against the windows. And a book. What could have been lovelier?"

Ah, yes! Simply substitute your favorite beverage and snack of choice, perhaps a guilty pleasure, your preferred reading retreat, and you can immediately relate to the allure of an escape with one of your treasured books. I know simple words like that never fail to grab the attention of this bookworm. I immediately knew I would love this unique and very clever read by Anthony Horowitz!

This is really a brilliant mix of both a golden age whodunit with more of a contemporary crime mystery. It would appeal not only to mystery fans, but also to lovers of literary writing and book worshippers in general. A novel nested within another, Magpie Murders is a real page-turner; and I would be hard-pressed to say which thread I loved more – that of private detective Atticus Pünd or of Susan Ryeland, editor at Cloverleaf Books. The way Horowitz manages to weave together the two threads is impressive really; just as you are pulled out of one narrative to jump into the other, you will be left gasping but just as thrilled to be caught up in the next.

The characters are very well-drawn and the two mysteries contain plenty of suspects to keep you guessing. I changed my mind constantly regarding the true culprit(s) – everyone seemed to have the perfect motive for murder! I adored Atticus Pünd, despite the fact his creator seemed to harbor such contempt for him. He may remind you of other beloved literary detectives if you are familiar with the genre. A Holocaust survivor, Atticus has both a realistic as well as a somewhat guarded view of the world around him. "… there was something about the pace of change that concerned him, the sudden onrush of machines in every shape and size. As televisions, typewriters, fridges and washing machines became more ubiquitous, as even the fields became crowded with electric pylons, he sometimes wondered if there might not be hidden costs for a humanity that had already been sorely tested in his lifetime. Nazism, after all, had been a machine in itself. He was in no rush to join the new technological age." Susan Ryeland is equally likable; she speaks to the reader in each of us with her love of books. "I had far too many books, of course. Every inch of shelf space was taken. There were books on top of books. The shelves themselves were bending under the weight." Who can’t relate to that problem?!

I’m not going to give you any further plot details; you absolutely have to read it for yourself in order to fully appreciate the ingenuity to be revealed once you crack open this book. This one is the whole package – suspense, interesting characters, charming settings (both the historical as well as the more modern), wit, and heaps of literary references. Magpie Murders is a 5-star, thoroughly entertaining read. Highly recommended.

"I’m not sure it actually matters what we read. Our lives continue along the straight lines that have been set out for us. Fiction merely allows us a glimpse of the alternative. Maybe that’s one of the reasons we enjoy it."
Profile Image for Arah-Lynda.
337 reviews523 followers
August 26, 2017
What is it about Anthony Horowitz’s writing that sets me to thinking about books and my love of them?    Of course if I am thinking about books it is typically the physical representation of such that consumes my thoughts.  I mean it’s something I look for and take comfort in when I am visiting someone else’s home.  I have books in practically every room of my house.  I love to leave them lying about, because come on they are beautiful and evocative of past explorations or they lay basking in the glow of impassioned anticipation.  I mean I even have kept a copy of White Oleander on my shelves.   It is in absolutely horrific shape, whoever had it before it came into my hands was not kind or mindful.  Still, Fitch’s prose is so beautiful, so unforgettable, that I still go back and sneak a peek every now again and usually when I do, I find myself thinking that I really need to buy a better copy of this work.  Still I hold on to my well thumbed, dog-eared, decrepit and mysteriously stained and abused book that I first read.

Books add warmth and depth and I take comfort in their company and the ever changing displays of them that litter my home.  But even I have to acknowledge all the benefits of today’s E readers.  I am often compelled to have a book right away, even when I know I may not get to it for a while.  I love knowing that it is right there, easily available when I am ready.  Digital makes that so easy and fast and compact.  I have hundreds of books on a device that takes up less room than one hard copy. And I can read it anywhere at any time of day or night, regardless of lighting and it travels like a true champion. Oh my goodness I do love books, in all shapes, styles and configurations.  

I have a soft trade copy of Magpie Murders, with a black and red cover and ruffled pages.  It lay itself wide open for my reading pleasure throughout. I love that!   In this story Horowitz pays homage to Agatha Christie and his work is brilliant.  It is the kind of story that you know right from the get go that you can settle into and get comfortable.  All will be revealed in due course.  It is actually two mysteries, one nested into another and even though I was annoyed and impatient when I got pulled away from Atticus Pund, I soon found myself lost in another story and equally reluctant to let go.     And Horowitz delivers on both counts and had me more than once turning back the pages and scratching my head.  I loved it!  

Up next……..Moriarty
Profile Image for carol..
1,513 reviews7,688 followers
March 22, 2019
I didn't know much about the Magpie Murders when Dan 2-Headphones suggested it as a buddy read. I read the description, and though it seemed suspiciously lit-fic--I was loathe to experience another Cloud Atlas--I gave it a try. The set-up is indeed a bit lit-fic: an editor sits down to read the first copy of her author's book, and then the story launches into a book-with-a-book format.

For a life-long fan of Christie-type mysteries, the first half is a beautiful, solid reproduction of an English manor mystery. Specific books came to mind, such as The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and After the Funeral, but mostly it felt like a Christie theme park English village, complete with wealthy landowner and wife, a doctor, a vicar and his wife, the person that runs the pub, a gardener, the 'girl friday' (or whatever decade the cleaning person is), a mechanic, a police officer, and shopkeepers of various sorts. There are people decrying the behavior of the young, and people resenting the new development/housing. Horowitz does update it nicely by giving us a female doctor, but he can't resist giving us a Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings, although in a semi-hysterical move, he makes Poirot into the German Atticus Pünd (honestly, I'm surprised he didn't go with a Frenchman, just for fun). Tell me this sentence doesn't just scream Poirot:

"Of course I do not believe the things that you suggest and it gives me no pleasure to ask you these questions. But everything must be in its place. Every statement must be verified, every movement examined.”

Then we go back to the modern mystery. For the most part, the narrative does not jump back and forth between 'book' and modern time, which I appreciated. There are visual cues to make it clear: page numbers, typesetting, and chapter headings all aid in differentiating the two sections. Both 'books' are in limited third person perspective.

Horowitz is clearly a talented writer. The homage to the ladies of the Golden Age of Mysteries is solid, without feeling syrupy or arch. The modern section has an updated linguistic feel, more introspective and more philosophical about mystery books, murder, and puzzles. I did enjoy many of the musings/insights.

"It was as if my new life was an anagram of my old one and I would only learn what shape it had taken when I began to live it."

It's very good stuff, but I'd agree with lucky little cat's assessment of two flaws: first, that it dragged a bit in the second half. I had thought that was me and my preference for the classic English manor mystery, but on further reflection, I'd say some of the sections could use cutting, particularly the relationship drama. Second, that the 'puzzle' at the very end seemed ill-fitting. I suppose it was about shock and coarseness, but it didn't feel integrated with the tone of the remaining story.

There truly isn't much more to be said without spoilers, but I'd say never fear, Horowitz will not disappoint. Give it a try.

Four-and-a-half teacups, and a shoutout to Dan 2 Headphones for suggesting it.
Profile Image for Katie.
261 reviews333 followers
January 19, 2018
Though I’m usually up for a game of Cluedo if I turn on the TV and there’s a whodunnit on I immediately change the channel. I’m not sure why since I’ve never read a whodunnit novel or watched a whodunnit series. It’s an instinctive thing. So I thought the time had come to investigate my instinctive indifference. This version of the genre attracted me because of the meta fiction angle – the story within the story structure.

An easy way of evaluating any novel is to compare the time consumed reading it and the nourishment received. I’m afraid I can’t say this emerged from this test with a very high rating. It’s entertaining but it’s also very very long. About the size of Anna Karenina, in fact.

I quite enjoyed the first narrative but began to get a bit bored and irritated when I had to go through the whole thing again. Paul Auster’s 4321 showed me retelling the same story in a different literary dimension is a difficult trick to pull off. For me, Horowitz only half pulled it off. The second narrative did interest me but I had soon lost interest in the puzzles of the first narrative. Soon I realised I didn’t much care who had killed Sir Magnus Pye. The final straw was when the narrator wants me to read a long excerpt from a fictional author’s novel and compare it with an extract from an unpublished author’s manuscript for signs of plagiarism. I skipped it. Once I’ve skipped even a sentence in a novel I’m reading it triggers a willingness, even an eagerness to skip whole passages. But then I have little interest in sleuthing. In some ways whodunnits are like crossword puzzles – too welded and tidy for my liking. Lots of clues are coded into the text using anagrams and allusions to famous whodunnit authors. Again of little interest to me, I’m afraid. And, of course, red herrings abound. There were some interesting musings on the nature of the whodunnit genre, most of all regarding its status as light entertainment rather than serious literature. One problem I had, is that in whodunnits people seem to murder their victims for essentially flimsy and implausible reasons. As if I murdered my window cleaner because he always deliberately missed two of my windows. All this said I reckon if you love whodunnits you’ll love this because essentially it’s very well constructed. And I did find it fascinating as a concept, perhaps unique to whodunnits, how to some extent the detective does your reading for you. However I think I will be sticking to the occasional game of Cluedo and continuing to ignore every crossword puzzle I come across.
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
527 reviews57.6k followers
October 13, 2022
(3.75) This was a fun cosy murder mystery!

While a bit long, my main complaint was that switching from "the book" to "real life" was rough... I just wanted to finish the story.

Recommend and will read book 2
Profile Image for Sandysbookaday is (reluctantly) on hiatus.
1,924 reviews2,013 followers
November 25, 2022
EXCERPT: 23 July 1955

There was going to be a funeral.

The two gravediggers, old Jeff Weaver and his son, Adam had been out at first light and everything was ready, a grave dug to the exact proportions, the earth neatly piled to one side. The church of St. Botolph's in Saxby-on-Avon had never looked lovelier, the morning sun glinting off the stained glass windows. The church dated back to the twelfth century although of course it had been rebuilt many times. The new grave was to the east, close to the ruins of the old chancel where the grass was allowed to grow wild and daisies and dandelions sprouted around the broken arches.

The village itself was quiet, the streets empty. The milkman had already made his deliveries and disappeared, the bottles rattling on the back of his van. The newspaper boys had done their rounds. This was a Saturday, so nobody would be going to work and it was still too early for the homeowners to begin their weekend chores. At nine o'clock, the village shop would open. The smell of bread, fresh out of the oven, was already seeping out of the baker's shop next door. Their first customers would be arriving soon. Once breakfast was over, a chorus of lawnmowers would start up. It was July, the busiest time of the year for Saxby-on-Avon's keen army of gardeners and with the Harvest Fair just a month away roses were already being pruned, marrows carefully measured. At half past one there was to be a cricket match on the village green. There would be an ice cream van, children playing, visitors having picnics in front of their cars. The tea shop would be open for business. A perfect summer's afternoon.

ABOUT MAGPIE MURDERS: 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.

MY THOUGHTS: Magpie Murders is a book about a book and its author. I love it. I want to read it again, right now. It is fiendishly clever, inventive, compelling, and deliciously dark in its own twisty way. This is a book that will have you puzzling, scratching your head, and occasionally saying, 'but of course!' Magpie Murders is vastly different to anything that I have ever read before.

There are multiple references to Christie, anagrams and cryptic clues. I think that it would be impossible to read this book and not try to solve the mysteries, the murders as you read. There are plenty of red herrings (and even a publishing company called Red Herrings!), plenty of suspects.

There are characters to love, and characters you will love to hate. Everyone has secrets, some worth knowing, some not. But there is someone who knows all the secrets.

Susan Ryeland is the character who unites the two halves of this book. She is editor to the author of Magpie Murders, Alan Conway, a man she can't stand. She has devoted her whole life to books, to bookshops, booksellers, and bookish people like her boss Charles Clover, owner and CEO of Cloverleaf Publishing, and her authors. She is starting to feel that by doing so, she has wound up like a book: on the shelf. She is at a crossroads in her life, with a new opportunity opening up for her. But will she take it?

I have always wondered how authors come up with their characters, how they round them out, make them realistic, relatable. Conway's methods are explored in some detail, and are a little wicked.

I love Magpie Murders and will, at some point, be giving it a second read. I will also be buying myself a copy. There was not one word in this book that I didn't enjoy.

Magpie Murders is #1 in the Susan Ryeland series.


THE AUTHOR: Anthony Horowitz's life might have been copied from the pages of Charles Dickens or the Brothers Grimm. Born in 1956 in Stanmore, Middlesex, to a family of wealth and status, Anthony was raised by nannies, surrounded by servants and chauffeurs. His father, a wealthy businessman, was, says Mr. Horowitz, "a fixer for Harold Wilson." What that means exactly is unclear — "My father was a very secretive man," he says— so an aura of suspicion and mystery surrounds both the word and the man. As unlikely as it might seem, Anthony's father, threatened with bankruptcy, withdrew all of his money from Swiss bank accounts in Zurich and deposited it in another account under a false name and then promptly died. His mother searched unsuccessfully for years in attempt to find the money, but it was never found. That too shaped Anthony's view of things. Today he says, "I think the only thing to do with money is spend it." His mother, whom he adored, eccentrically gave him a human skull for his 13th birthday. His grandmother, another Dickensian character, was mean-spirited and malevolent, a destructive force in his life. She was, he says, "a truly evil person", his first and worst arch villain. "My sister and I danced on her grave when she died," he now recalls.
A miserably unhappy and overweight child, Anthony had nowhere to turn for solace. "Family meals," he recalls, "had calories running into the thousands&. I was an astoundingly large, round child&." At the age of eight he was sent off to boarding school, a standard practice of the times and class in which he was raised. While being away from home came as an enormous relief, the school itself, Orley Farm, was a grand guignol horror with a headmaster who flogged the boys till they bled. "Once the headmaster told me to stand up in assembly and in front of the whole school said, 'This boy is so stupid he will not be coming to Christmas games tomorrow.' I have never totally recovered." To relieve his misery and that of the other boys, he not unsurprisingly made up tales of astounding revenge and retribution.

Anthony Horowitz is perhaps the busiest writer in England. He has been writing since the age of eight, and professionally since the age of twenty. He writes in a comfortable shed in his garden for up to ten hours per day. In addition to the highly successful Alex Rider books, he has also written episodes of several popular TV crime series, including Poirot, Murder in Mind, Midsomer Murders and Murder Most Horrid. He has written a television series Foyle's War, which recently aired in the United States, and he has written the libretto of a Broadway musical adapted from Dr. Seuss's book, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. His film script The Gathering has just finished production. And&oh yes&there are more Alex Rider novels in the works. Anthony has also written the Diamond Brothers series.

DISCLOSURE: I decided to read Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz because I have #2 in this series, Moonflower Murders, to read. I borrowed my copy from Waitomo District Library. Publishers Orion Books are also mentioned in Magpie Murders.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram and my webpage https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...
October 6, 2017
5+++ stars!!! Brilliant! Unique! Fantastic! Loved this book!

This was such a unique and outstanding story! A book within a book - it doesn't get any better than that!! I am so impressed with this author, Anthony Horowitz's, talent and creativity in developing and constructing this remarkable novel. The flow and format of this book were exceptional - simply brilliant!

I cannot recommend this book highly enough! It's definitely one of my favourites of 2017!

To find our full Traveling Sister Read review, please visit Brenda and Norma's fabulous blog at:

Profile Image for Mary Beth .
380 reviews1,613 followers
October 23, 2017

When editor Susan Ryeland is given the tattered manuscript of Alan Conway's latest novel, she has little idea it will change her life. She's worked with the revered crime writer for years and his detective, Atticus Pund, is renowned for solving crimes in the sleepy English villages of the 1950s. As Susan knows only too well, vintage crime sells handsomely. It's just a shame that it means dealing with an author like Alan Conway...

But Conway's latest tale of murder at Pye Hall is not quite what it seems. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but hidden in the pages of the manuscript there lies another story: a tale written between the very words on the page, telling of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition and murder.

From Sunday Times bestseller Anthony Horowitz comes Magpie Murders, his deliciously dark take on the vintage crime novel, brought bang- up-to-date with a fiendish modern twist.

My Thoughts

I really loved the first book. I really am not into who-dun its but took the plunge when I saw all the raving reviews. This book was very clever. It had two books in one book. I was turning the pages quickly in the first mystery. It hooked me in and I kept guessing who the murderer was.
Now the second book kind of bored me. I enjoyed it but I really wasn't drawn into it like I was in the first book. I know I am not a who-dun-it fan so my expectations were low to begin with. I did enjoy it, but it was not really a thriller, which I love. I did think that the first book was a mystery and a thriller but the second book I felt was just a mystery. It didn't have me on the edge of my seat. Since I did enjoy the first one a lot and gave me the suspense that I need in a book. I am giving my rating 3.5 rounded to a 4.
Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews12k followers
October 5, 2017
Traveling Sister Group Read with Brenda, Lindsay, Susanne, JanB, Holly, Linda, Jaline and PorshaJo

4.5 stars rounded up to 5 stars!

This book was such a fun, enjoyable, well-plotted, and a brilliantly written novel that was an extremely intriguing Golden Age style mystery that had a mystery novel structured into a mystery novel. Which I found quite satisfying and exciting to read! I loved that I was reading a book within a book! Would highly recommend!

All of our Traveling Sisters Reviews can be found on our sister blog:
Profile Image for Linda.
1,190 reviews1,239 followers
October 9, 2018
Hey, Kiddies.

We're coloring with the BIG box of crayons here. Anthony Horowitz uses all the creative color names and he doesn't close the lid of the box until the very end.

If you've read any mysteries by Horowitz (The Word Is Murder), you know that he likes to insert a pistol in the carved-out pages of his books. We've got the ol' story within the story happening.

Susan Ryeland, editor extraordinaire, has received a manuscript from one of her writers, Alan Conway. Conway is famous for his Atticus Pund detective series. Susan puts up with a lot from Conway. He's inconsistent and a royal pain at times. As she peruses his latest offering, she finds herself drawn deeply into this storyline. Conway seems to be running a thread within the thread. Susan now finds herself locked in as she begins reading and we find ourselves looking over her shoulder.

It's 1955 in a small English village in the shadows of Pye Hall. Pye Hall is a manor house that has been family owned for generations. Magnus and his sister, Clarissa, are the last of the Pye dynasty. Horowitz begins showcasing his bevy of oddly matched characters. He has always had the gift of honing individuals with some quirky behaviors.

One character, Mary Blakiston, will be short-lived as she finds herself with a broken neck at the bottom of the stairway at Pye Hall. Mary won't be flitting around with her featherduster any time soon as the manor's housekeeper. Although Mary's life is snuffed out in the first few pages, she will be a magnetic fixture throughout the book as backstories arise with each character having encounters with her. Interesting.....very interesting.

The aforementioned Atticus Pund will be called in to solve the mystery of Mary's death. But there is quite the unsettling news about ol' Atticus. My lips are sealed in that regard. You, dear readers, will find that there are many characters with motive and opportunity here. When another heavy-duty character is found dead, the lid will be clattering on this boiling pot.

Magpie Murders has the earmarks of an old Agatha Christie novel. But unlike Christie, Horowitz kicks his novels up a notch with superb creativity and crazy wild storylines. As so many of you do, I like to keep pace with the writer and work through all the subtle clues dropped from his basket. No spoon-feeding antics here. Horowitz crafts a winner.

Highly recommend this one. You may or may not have to use the crayon sharpener on the back of the BIG box. Just saying'.........
Profile Image for Susan.
2,599 reviews599 followers
June 14, 2020
Although I have never read anything by Anthony Horowitz, my sons have both enjoyed his books and, when I heard he was writing what could be called a homage to Golden Age detective fiction, I was curious. I adore vintage crime novels and, having read this, I feel that Horowitz has done an excellent job in combining the fun of those mysteries with a more modern take.

The story begins in present day London, with Susan Ryeland, Head of Fiction at Cloverleaf Books, about to read the latest Atticus Punt mystery by their bestselling author, Alan Conway. Although Susan does not get along with Alan, she loves his novels and is looking forward to reading his latest. Horowitz cleverly uses this device to tell a mystery within a mystery, as we read the novel that Susan sits down to read, alongside her. The story of her Poirot like detective, Atticus Punt; a German who survived the war and is now a private investigator in 1950’s England, who is asked to investigate the death of a local village busy-body.

Having finished the book, Susan discovers the ending is missing and, almost at the same time, she discovers that Alan Conway has died. Like his fictional character, Conway had discovered he had a terminal illness and ended his life – or did he? As Susan sets out to try to discover the missing chapters of the last Atticus Punt mystery, “Magpie Murders,” she realises there are real life parallels between the novel and Conway’s life, as well as links between his death and the mystery.

This really is a very enjoyable read. I loved the character of Susan Ryeland and thought she was a realistic amateur investigator. Meanwhile, the two mysteries coincide cleverly, so the author manages to give us both endings almost in tandem. This is very much a loving look at Golden Age detective fiction. Horowitz allows his fictional author, Alan Conway, to utilise a lot of Agatha Christie in his book, while also using puzzles and cryptic clues as devices in the modern version of the storyline. I really do hope that this is not just a standalone novel – Anthony Horowitz has done something very clever and it works very well, but I would love to see Susan Ryeland return in another mystery.

Update: there is a sequel - Moonflower Murders - which I am looking forward to reading and I re-read this, first book, to remind myself of the characters.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.
Profile Image for Jaline.
444 reviews1,602 followers
October 5, 2017
This was an awesome, fun-filled Traveling Sisters Group Read with Brenda, Norma, Lindsay, Susanne, JanB, Holly, Linda, and PorshaJo, and all the reviews can be found at “Two Sisters Lost In a Coulee Reading": http://wp.me/p87LDU-ON

This book is just so phenomenally good! There are two mysteries going on at the same time – and the way these are woven together is exquisitely exceptional. It starts out with an editor (Susan) reading a client’s book prior to setting to work on it. So, we read along with her.

Then, a series of events pull us out of the mystery book she is reading and into a more immediate mystery – one that Susan becomes caught up in solving.

The novel Susan is reading is written along the classic lines of Agatha Christie’s Poirot novels. It is fascinating and filled with enough suspects, clues, and red herrings to make any classic mystery fan happy. (I’m putting my hand up here!)

The mystery that Susan becomes involved in solving is more along modern lines – and the tension is strung a little tighter. There are still suspects, clues, and red herrings, but the pace gradually speeds up, the tautness intensifies, and there are a few heart-racing moments.

I do not want to give the plot(s) away as I know there are many people who want to read this. Believe me – you have a wonderful reading experience ahead of you! I am amazed by the author’s ability to weave so many characters and storylines together so seamlessly. This is simply an outstanding book and I recommend it to everyone! Even if you are not a fan of mysteries, this book is worth reading just to experience a master writer’s spellbinding work!
Profile Image for mwana .
365 reviews207 followers
September 29, 2022
The murder mystery is one of the longest surviving genres of all time. At a time, it was even my absolute favourite (I no longer know) genre. However, lately I've felt disillusioned with modern attempts to be the next Christie and this novel is another example of why.

This book thinks it's clever, a book within a book following Susan Ryeland- an editor of Cloverleaf Books and the blandest character I have ever read about- and the main character of the book within the book called Atticus Pund. Magpie Murders is actually about Pund's final case and the last book in the series. A murder has happened in Saxby-on-Avon a sleepy English village straight out of a Christie novel and set in the 50s. It was easily my favourite part of the book. The only part I enjoyed.

The story starts with Ryeland reading the manuscript for Magpie Murders by Alan Conway, which begins with a funeral. Local busybody and shit-stirrer Mary Blakiston was found dead at the bottom of the stairs of the house where she worked, Pye Hall. She died within the house but it was locked from the inside. The doctor and gardener had to break into the house to get to her. Mary Blakiston was a poor man's Alison DiLaurentis. She knew a little too much about everyone and was fond of rubbing her illicit knowledge in her victims' faces. Perhaps that was why she was killed. Was she killed? Just when Pund is about to reveal what happened to her, going as far as namedropping the person who could be responsible, the novel within is abruptly cut short.

Now, I have nothing against cliff-hangers. I actually appreciate it when the author has a legitimate reason to withhold information from the reader. But sometimes, it's just a waste of time, energy, money, space, paper and ink. Horowitz owes a big debt to the universe for all the bullshit he had me slog through just to get to the resolution of the real Magpie Murders.

See there is a reason why that information was cut short. Ryeland didn't have the full manuscript and alas, she can't have the rest of them because the author has died of apparent suicide. Ryeland then finds herself in a murder mystery of her own that any sleuth worth their salt would scoff at. The thing I love about mysteries, besides wondering how the crime was committed, is the colourful cast of characters and the setting. One of my favourite mysteries of all time, Stranger on the Shore , is set in a Long Island estate with a wealthy family with its requisite cast of eccentrics. It rewards me with people to hate, people to love, people to root for and people to wish they drop dead. In Ryeland's part of the story, there was no such thing. If anything I just couldn't wait for the story to end.

Being in Ryeland's head is so damn BOOOORING. And my god is she just such an inspiration for ambivalence. Her life is the equivalent of bleurgh. At one point she has to choose becoming CEO of her publishing house after the presiding leader suggests he may retire and wants to hand over the reigns to her. However, her Greek lover has asked her to go with him to Greece where he wants to run a hotel Greekly. Seriously, the author won't ever let you forget Andreas is Greek. Ryeland somehow sees this as such a Problem.
Quite unexpectedly, and without really wanting it, I had come to a crossroads - or more accurately, a T-junction - in my life. I could take over as CEO of Cloverleaf Books. There were writers I wanted to work with... As I'd told Andreas the night before, I could develop the business the way I wanted. Or there was Crete. The choices were so different, the two directions so contrary, that considering the two of them side by side almost made me want to laugh... Why do these things have to happen at the same time?

Ryeland is also rather the poor narrator. She's even aware of it, and that makes her inclusion in this novel at all even more egregious All of this makes me a poor choice of narrator/investigator. The red herrings in this book feel like a complete waste of time. They even come with a letter written about Conway by his sister which had a few nice lines, He used language as a place for us to hide. But sudden moments of writerly genius weren't enough to compensate for the hand-holding, amatuer hour narration and pure slog that was the second half of this book.

I didn't enjoy the conclusion of Ryeland's mystery and I wondered why it was even necessary. Her bits also had two more books within books with one being Conway satirizing or canonizing a Serious Writer™️ where he referred to a baby as an unlovely ball of poisonous mauve (ew) and another where a wannabe author and waiter was showing Ryeland his novel. I have no idea whether Horowitz wanted to show off his ability to write different voices in which case cool, bro.

This book leaves me with mixed feelings. I loved the Christie call-back of the Atticus Pund story but Ryeland's part of the story can go fuck itself. The cover of my copy has a blurb from the Daily Mail (of all fucking newspapers) calling it the finest crime novel of the year with a stunning twist. It certainly left me stunned as to what was stunning.
Profile Image for  Li'l Owl.
398 reviews231 followers
August 6, 2019
Currently listening to this gem for the second time!!

Mysterious, unique, and very crafty! A book about a book? What's not to love?

I absolutely loved Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz! I listened to the audiobook edition which has two narrators, Samantha Bond and Allan Corduner.
Both of them elevated the novel to the next level with an expertly refined and polished performance, easily earning them 5★'s each!

Magpie Murders is about an editor, Susan Ryland, who is reading the typescript of a novel entitled Magpie Murders, written by Alan Conway, making it a mystery novel within a mystery novel. Very crafty Mr. Horowitz!
It sounds confusing but it's very easy to follow as the book is divided up into two parts.

In Part one we are introduced to Susan Ryeland, narrated by Samantha Bond. Susan is an editor and the head of fiction at the publishing company Cloverleaf Books. She is to read the typescript of Alan Conway's newest novel, Magpie Murders.

Part two is where we, as readers, get to read the manuscript of Magpie Murders, for ourselves. The book is the ninth novel in Conway's popular series staring Atticus Pünt. As this is an audiobook, this part is narrated by Allan Corduner.

The creative way Anthony Horowitz designed the chapter headings in Magpie Murders is absolutely ingenious! Each chapter is based on the traditional children's nursery rhyme about magpies, entitled "One For Sorrow".
According to an old superstition, the number of magpies one sees determines if one will have bad luck. Another sneaky one Mr. Horowitz!

Another reason this book stands out has to do with the idiosyncrasies that Horowitz gave his character Alan Conway. Conway is very fond of anagrams which add to the a mysterious pieces of the puzzle in Alan Conway's novel.
Want to know more? Have I made you sufficiently curious?

Susan Ryland
I've always loved  whodunnits. I've not just edited them, I've read them for pleasure throughout my life, gorging on them actually. You must know that feeling. When it's raining outside, and the heatings on,  and you lose yourself utterly in a book. You read, and read, and you feel the pages slipping through your fingers  until suddenly, there are fewer in your right hand than in your left. And you want to slow down, but still you hurdle on towards the conclusion that you can hardly bare to discover. That is the particular  power of the whodunnit....

As far as I'm concerned, you can't beat a good whodunnit: the twists and turns, the clues and the red harrings and then, finally, the satisfaction of having everything explained to you in a way that makes you kick yourself because you hadn't seen it from the start.
That was what I was expecting when I began. But Magpie Murders wasn't like that. It wasn't like that at all.
I hope I don't need to spell it out anymore. Unlike me, you have been warned

Magpie Murders the first novel I've read by Anthony Horowitz. If his other books are anything like this one I'll be reading them all!
Horowitz is a clever, skillful, and splendid author. I can see why Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sir has chosen him to write more Sherlock Holmes mysteries.
His writing is illustrious, quick-witted and his gift for including wily and intriguing puzzle pieces into his stories puts him solidly on my 'must read more from this author!' List!
Profile Image for Ginger.
735 reviews334 followers
February 14, 2020
Wow! I loved this one. 5 stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magpie Murders was super unique and well thought out!
The writing and characterization was superb too.

Magpie Murders is a story within a story. I don’t want to say too much because it will ruin the surprise for you. The less you know going into this, the more you’ll enjoy this whodunnit!

This is the first book that I’ve read by Anthony Horowitz and I was impressed! I will definitely be reading more by him. Bravo Horowitz on a excellent and original idea for a mystery book!
Profile Image for Carol.
824 reviews479 followers
July 17, 2017
The Hook - This quote from a main character, Susan Reyland, sums up my love of a good mystery and says it all:

” I’ve always loved whodunnits. I’ve not just edited them. I’ve read them for pleasure throughout my life, gorging on them actually. You must know that feeling when it’s raining outside and the heating’s on and you lose yourself, utterly, in a book. You read and you read and you feel the pages slipping through your fingers until suddenly there are fewer in your right hand than there are in your left and you want to slow down but you still hurtle on towards a conclusion you can hardly bear to discover. That is the particular power of the whodunnit which has, I think, a special place within the general panoply of literary fiction because, of all characters, the detective enjoys a particular, indeed a unique relationship with the reader. Whodunnits are all about truth: nothing more, nothing less. In a world full of uncertainties, is it not inherently satisfying to come to the last page with every i dotted and every t crossed? The stories mimic our experience in the world”

The Line(s) ”I hope I don’t need to spell it out any more. Unlike me, you have been warned. “

The Sinker - This clever nod to The Age of Golden Mysteries is destined to win a few best mystery of the 2017 awards, it’s that good. Double the pleasure, double the fun, you get two for your money, a book within a book that provides lots to puzzle as you read both stories.

Magpie Murders, one of the mysteries is the 9th in a series by author Alan Conway. The series features the protagonist Atticus Pünd. Series characters often pay the bills yet many authors including the fictitious Conway have grown sick of their character and could easily kill him off if their fans would only let them. Like others before him Conway is joined at the hip to his character, the proverbial ball and chain. Conway has other stories he’d like to pursue if only. Even Christie grew tired of Poirot and called him

‘A detestable, bombastic, tiresome, egocentric little creep.’

This judgment fit Conway’s sentiments of Pünd perfectly.

Magpie Murders has got it all; murder, mayhem, red herrings, clues, codes, logistical solving, and a huge pool of suspects to choose from.

Anthony Horowitz has a field day with his audience paying homage to many famous writers in the mystery genre. Think Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.E. McNeile, Sayers, and Dickens and their characters, Poirot, Miss Marple, Sherlock, Drummond, Sir Peter Wimsy and Drood to name just a few.

I postponed reading the ending of Magpie Murders to see if I could put the pieces together. I was partly right and partly wrong to my delight.

If you love a good mystery, if you love a good story, if you love a good puzzle, don’t miss this one.
Profile Image for Robin.
475 reviews2,546 followers
July 27, 2017
So much more than a mystery novel.

I cringe saying that, because it implies that a mystery novel isn't enough, or is somehow inferior. Which isn't true. I'm a reader who has spent many an hour, an afternoon, a nail biting binge read, with excellent mysteries by the greatest (Christie, P.D. James, Sayers, and more).

You read and you read and you feel the pages slipping through your fingers until suddenly there are fewer in your right hand than there are in your left and you want to slow down but you still hurtle on towards a conclusion you can hardly bear to discover.

But this book is unique, and that's why it is more than a mystery novel. True, a mystery novel is at the heart of this book. "Magpie Murders" is the latest book by fictional author Alan Conway. The mystery is encased in another story, a bookending story told by Conway's editor that links real life with the characters in Conway's cozy yet murderous English village.

Anthony Horowitz is so good. For the first half of this book he hooked me into the world of Saxby-on-Avon, where a meddling housekeeper suffers a fatal fall, and death is restless with the nasty Sir Magnus Pye giving a multitude of suspects reasons to bump him off. Then, we are jerked out of the story at a most inopportune moment, linking fiction with meta fiction. The world of the cozy mystery is oddly linked with the literary world of writers, publishers, editors, and... murder.

I loved the homage to Agatha Christie. I also thoroughly enjoyed the references to many writers such as Graham Greene, Ian McEwan, and Conan Doyle. Even Mathew Prichard (grandson to Dame Agatha) has a cameo. And Horowitz makes an appearance (much like Graeme Macrae Burnet did in His Bloody Project) at the end, which I found playful and tongue in cheek.

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.
Profile Image for Bionic Jean.
1,227 reviews1,026 followers
February 13, 2023
“Why is it that we have such a need for murder mystery, and what is it that attracts us—the crime or the solution? Do we have some primal need of bloodshed because our own lives are so safe, so comfortable?”

These are questions crime-fiction addicts may well ask themselves, although they are actually spoken by one of the characters in the novel Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. Nevertheless it is true: there���s something oddly appealing about an English cosy mystery. Whatever is happening in our own lives, we seem to enjoy “cosying up” and being entertained by reading about gruesome events such as brutal beheadings, blackmail, and multiple murders. Here’s the same character again, Susan Ryeland, who is the narrator of the wider novel:

“‘I don’t understand it. All these murders on TV—you’d think people would have better things to do with their time. Haven’t the public had enough of murder?’

‘You’re joking. Inspector Morse, Taggart, Lewis, Foyle’s War, Endeavour, A Touch of Frost, Luther, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Cracker, Broadchurch and even bloody Maigret and Wallander—British TV would disappear into a dot on the screen without murder.’”

But why “wider novel”. Surely this is a straightforward mystery novel—comfort reading—isn’t it?

On one level that is true. Anthony Horowitz writes with great aplomb, and this is an entertaining page turner on any level. But wait, there is a second title page, also for Magpie Murders, but in this case the author is cited as one “Alan Conway”. Following is a short piece about the author, mirroring that of Anthony Horowitz himself, and then a list of fictional books in “The Atticus Pünd series”. There is even a page of brief reviews, entitled “Praise for Atticus Pünd”, and attributed to genuine newspapers and big-name authors. These are all in printed in a different font. A return to the original font style signals a return to the real-life setting of contemporary London.

By now we understand the structure. It is to be the oldfashioned, but very enjoyable, device of a novel within a novel: a kind of Russian nesting doll structure. Two or three pages briefly set the modern scene with a narrator, at this stage unknown, before we are into the featured mystery novel.

The style of this inner Magpie Murders is oddly familiar. The naming of chapter one, “Sorrow”, rings a bell. Isn’t there a nursery rhyme begining “One for Sorrow, Two for Joy”? Flipping to the cover reveals a subheading: “Seven for a Secret that Needs to be Told”. Surely that isn’t quite how the rhyme goes … but nevertheless, this neat device has been established. Extremely neat in this case, as it is possible to tell how long the included novel is to be, by following the chapters and the rhyme to which they refer. This inner novel is to be almost exactly half the length of the outer one; a satisfying read in itself.

The vague association quickly becomes a clear recognition of style. Anthony Horowitz has imitated Agatha Christie perfectly. It is not merely a pastiche, but reads more like an homage. The action takes place in a sleepy English village in the 1940s. There is an unexpected death; and then another. We have a host of potential intriguing suspects, including a meddling busybody, a peculiar, rather twitchy vicar and a bluff, bombastic aristocrat. And they all have secrets to hide. We have a fussy and pedantic detective, Atticus Pünd who is not English. He is small and precise, with quirky mannerisms; an amateur sleuth who only ever investigates when the crime appeals to him. Yet Atticus Pünd has a very good reputuation for success. He has a rather dim sidekick named James Fraser.

What does this all remind you of? Yes, you’ve got it. “Atticus Pünd” is the German equivalent of Hercule Poirot, and the story reads exactly like one of Agatha Christie’s short bestsellers. Here is the narrator again:

“Alan had captured something of the ‘golden age’ of British whodunnits with a country house setting, a complicated murder, a cast of suitable eccentric characters and a detective who arrived as an outsider. The book was set in 1946, just after the war and although he was light with the period detail, he had still managed to capture some of the feelings of that time. I liked his Germanic mannerisms, particularly his obssession with his book ‘The Landscape of Criminal Investigation’, which would become a regular feature. Setting the story in the forties also allowed for a gentler pace: no mobile phones, computers, forensics, no instant information.”

Susan Ryeland works in a publishing house, and is the long time editor of Alan Conway, who writes the Atticus Pünd books. She does not like the man, but he is her biggest earner, and this type of fiction is undoubtably what sells. Alan Conway’s latest tale is of a murder at Pye Hall, a large country estate. It is typical of his oeuvre:

“Pünd is only comfortable when he’s strolling on the village green or drinking in the local pub. Murders take place during cricket or croquet matches. The sun always shines. Given that he had named his house after a Sherlock Holmes short story, it’s possible that Alan was inspired by Holmes’s famous dictum: ‘The lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside’”.

This scenario might also sound vaguely familiar to us, but it is nothing to do with either of the authors quoted. In fact Anthony Horowitz is gently poking fun at himself here, and it is a sign of what is to come. Double or even triple irony runs through this entire book.

For most of his career to date, Anthony Horowitz has been writing suspense stories in the style of the genre’s greatest writers. He has written two novels about Sherlock Holmes: “Moriarty” and “The House of Silk”, both sanctioned by the Conan Doyle estate. He has also written a James Bond novel commissioned by the Ian Fleming estate. In addition to this he has an immense output of TV work, including screenplays for the “Poirot” TV series. Anthony Horowitz created both the TV series, “Foyle’s War”, and the popular long-running detective series “Midsomer Murders”. (A character in Magpie Murders seems keen to point out that although the original author Caroline Graham wrote only seven actual novels about Midsomer, the TV series has run to over 160 episodes.)

The continual references to his own works could become tiresome, had they not been inserted so charmingly and wryly. There are just little nudges here and there, such as the suggestion that the title Magpie Murders would be “too similar to Midsomer Murders on TV”. It’s more like a running theme, where the reader is in on the joke. The name-dropping and inclusion of characters and authors—even Agatha Christie’s real-life grandson, Mathew Prichard, makes an appearance at one point—is actually quite endearing. We look for echoes as he pays plenty of homage to the greats—and cheekily includes his own oeuvre. This quirkiness, poking fun at his own egocentricity, is very English. Rather than making one suspicious of product placement techniques, the reader becomes involved in a game of “spot the reference”. Here is Susan Ryeland again, with specific detailed examples. (There are no spoilers here, by the way):

“Magpie Murders pays homage to Agatha Christie at least half a dozen times. For example, Sir Magnus Pye and his wife stay at the Hotel Genevieve at Cap Ferrat. There’s a villa in Murder on the Links that has he same name. The Blue Boar is the pub in Bristol where Robert Blakiston is involved in a fight. But it also appears in St. Mary Mead, home of Miss Marple. Lady Pye and Jack Dartford have lunch at Carlotta’s, which seems to have been named after the American actoress in Lord Edgeware Dies. There’s a joke, of sorts, on page 157. Fraser fails to notice a dead man on the three fifty train from Paddington, an obvious reference to the 4.50 from Paddington. Mary Blakiston lives in Sheppard’s Farm. Dr James Sheppard in the narrator of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, which is set in King’s Abbott, a village that is also mentioned on page 78, which is where old Dr Reynard is buried.”

A reader may pick all these up, and many more, or not. It adds to the mystery, and sometimes will elucidate, if part of a plot is remembered. I personally picked up a few, and found it immensely satisfying. For instance, I realised almost immediately, as mentioned, the deliberate use of a favourite device of Agatha Christie: using an old nursery rhyme to structure the book. She used this many times, for instance with “One, Two, Buckle my Shoe”, “5 little pigs”, “10 little Indians (And then there were none)”, “Hickory Dickory Dock”, and so on. Anthony Horowitz, through his author Alan Conway, has deliberately imitated this mechanism to great effect. I also personally very much enjoyed the very Englishness of the text, with genuine locations, places, institutions, events, personalities, name brands and popular culture familiar to me.

We follow Susan Ryeland as she digs into Alan Conway’s personal life. His real-life partner is James Taylor, who ruefully points out that he is “James Fraser”, the dim sidekick of Atticus Pünd in the series of novels. Together we spot Alan Conway’s own in-jokes in his novel: the included novel. With her help we spot the hidden anagrams, thematic character names and other more subtle rhetorical devices. Often, once we have seen them, they are blindingly obvious:

The fact that her best-selling writer was doing this made Susan Ryeland very uneasy. What made him do this, when nobody but he himself would know of it? And again, we have the familiar scenario of a best-selling writer who doesn’t care about the fame or the money, but wants to go down in history and be remembered for being “literary”. Many writers are reputed to have felt this. A.A. Milne grew to hate “Winnie the Pooh”, as did Richmal Crompton her roguish “William Brown”. Arthur Conan Doyle even tried to kill off Sherlock Holmes, but there was such a public outcry that he was famously forced to invent a story to bring everyone’s favourite sleuth back.

Anthony Horowitz is now 62, and lives in North London, in a converted warehouse which he shares with his wife—a television producer—and their two adult sons, who occupy apartments on separate floors. Is Anthony Horowitz, author of all those episodes “in the vein of” and the popular “Alex Rider” spy series for teenagers, revealing something of himself here; his own aspirations albeit this is his first mystery novel? Or is he once more being tongue-in-cheek, and self-deprecatingly teasing us yet again?

Sadly, “Alan Conway” did not seem to have the talent to be a literary phenomenon, as evidenced by a few chapters we also read. Magpie Murders is choc-a-block with little treats like this. There are a few chapters of another novel, a lengthy suicide note to analyse, and detective’s personal notes, presented much as Agatha Christie would write her expositions in the hand of Hercule Poirot. But what do we make of this “literary” novel; one which was to reveal his innermost thought and world view? Here is Susan Ryeland’s view:

“‘The Slide’ was completely different from the entertaining Atticus Pünd series … It was almost like discovering that Enid Blyton had, in her spare time, turned to pornography. The style was painfully derivative … Conway was labouring for effect with every sentence, with every ugly metaphor.”

Contemporary readers are often fascinated by the world behind the author. We express a wish to learn about “what makes them tick”. Perhaps there is even sometimes a more shameful secret curiosity; a desire to find something slightly unsavoury—to reveal that our heroes have feet of clay. Perhaps then this too is a literary device, and no more.

And this? Is this true to life?:

“Why do English villages lend themselves so well to murder? … I soon discovered that every time I made one friend I made three enemies and that arguments about such issues as car parking, the church bells, dog waste and hanging flower baskets dominated daily life to such an extent that everyone was permanently at each other’s throats. That’s the truth of it. Emotions, which are quickly lost in the noise and chaos of the city, fester around the village square, driving people to psychosis and violence. It’s a gift to the whodunnit writer”.

It’s a trope, of course. This is what some city-dweller in a novel would think of simple country life. It invites us to eagerly agree, to be in the know and empathise. Do we? I’m not so sure, having experienced both ends of the spectrum. At the time of writing I am sitting in a caravan, in an adjacent county, only a few miles from one of these sleepy villages depicted in “Magpie Murders”. I must say I haven’t come across much festering hidden emotion, psychosis or violence. But it’s a nice idea—in fiction.

“It was that ‘my dear’ that decided me. There was something quite repellent about the way he had addressed me. They were exactly the sort of words that Moriarty would have used. Or Flambeau. Or Carl Peterson. Or Arnold Zeck. And if it was true that detectives acted as moral beacons, why shouldn’t their light guide me now?”

You may be the sort of person who reads whodunnits primarily to guess the answer, and feel cheated if you don’t. Or maybe you feel irritated if it is too easy. There is ample opportunity to read Magpie Murders in that way, but it is more than that. For this book within a book, Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz contains the entire text of a cosy mystery by a fictitious author, and also entitled …Magpie Murders. The two novels become increasingly mirrored. More and more the reader suspects that finding the guilty party in the book will lead to revelations about the case in real life. Embedded in the pages of Alan Conway’s book another story lies hidden, and as each layer is shed, this tale is revealed to be one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition and murder, relating to present day events.

Confused? You just wait! Although having said that, this book is very easy to read and understand. Anthony Horowitz said in an interview that he personally likes murder mysteries which are free of forensics, surveillance cameras and DNA:

“And having no mobile phones is wonderfully helpful; it slows the pace down, and you have more time for atmosphere and character.”

He even writes with a fountain pen for his first drafts. For Anthony Horowitz the most important thing is that the reader cannot guess the ending, but that every clue is present on the page. There are plenty of his teasing sprinklings of clues and red herrings here. Yet his writing is so skilful that at no point does the reader become confused as to what is actually happening, but only as to how it will fit into the final jigsaw puzzle.

Is this a book which defies the stereotype? Certainly. Does it subvert the genre? Is it meta-fiction? Probably. However you want to categorise it, it is a great entertaining read, and the puzzle is intriguing.

Perhaps in the end, the answer to the initial question posed by “Susan Ryeland” is that it is the puzzle which attract us. And in this way, Magpie Murders satisfies on every level. There is the familiarity of a “golden age” whodunnit, and also a modern murder mystery, with threads interweaving. Anthony Horowitz may not be a name you immediately recognise, but he is both prolific and clearly very knowledgeable about the golden age of detective fiction. This is a perfect blend of respect for, and expertise in, the genre, and a gleeful, sly poke of irreverent fun at it. If you enjoy classic mysteries, or retro thrillers, I think you will find this book irresistible.

“Arthur Conan Doyle, who invented Sherlock Holmes, the greatest detective ever created, came to hate his character. The same was true for Fleming and Bond. And Hergé drew a picture of himself sweating at his desk, with Tintin standing with a whip behind him. I had similar feelings about Alex Rider. He is handsome and successful at 15, and I’m an aging writer in an attic in London.”

“I’ve always loved the genre, and I’ve written dozens of murder mysteries on TV but have resisted writing one as a book until now”

“A book does magic without saying, ‘Pick a card’. A whodunit is, at its best, a huge magic trick that says, “I’m going to tell you a story.”

Anthony Horowitz
Profile Image for PorshaJo.
440 reviews656 followers
September 30, 2017
What a fun read that kept me guessing until the very end. And I mean to the *very* end (I'm a bit rusty on the murder mysteries). When this one came out, I was intrigued immediately. That cover just draws you in. It was selected by a big group of lovely ladies for our Traveling Sisters read, which made this one even more fun to guess along the way and compare notes.

A tip for readers...don't read reviews on this book (as she writes this in her review, huh)! Go into it not knowing anything other than you will be delighted with this murder mystery. So many reviews tell too much about the story and I think it can ruin the enjoyment of the book. I will not do that, but instead I will say this, Susan Ryeland is an editor who is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel to read/edit. It can be confusing because you are reading a book about a person reading a book within the story. But it all comes together so brilliantly. There is a special nod to Agatha Christie in this one which is perfect for fans of her writing.

I listened to the audio and ended up loving it, the multiple narrators did a fabulous job. For audio fans, British accents but very easy to understand. At first, I was so confused listening....remember you are reading a book about a person reading a book within the story. I listened to about 20 mins, confused, went to beginning, and started again. There were no chapter marks for the book so I had difficulty in figuring out where I was. It's all due to the story - the book within the book. The Traveling Sisters with the print version said the page numbers were also confusing, all over the place. So I just went with the flow and enjoyed it until the end.

A fun read for fans of 'whodunits', one for fans of Agatha Christie, and I would say for audio fans too, just stick with it. So glad I read this one and read it with all my "sisters"!
Profile Image for Karl.
3,258 reviews256 followers
December 19, 2017
Anthony Horowitz is writing the new James Bond novel that will appear in the summer of 2018. He has been blessed to do so by the Ian Fleming Estate. And he has been given pieces of Fleming’s unpublished writing to include in the books he is authoring. Horowitz also authored the last ‘Official’ Bond novel 2015’s “Trigger Mortis” which I enjoyed.

“Magpie Murders” is the title of this book within a book. It also happens to be the ninth and final installment of fictional author Alan Conway’s internationally best-selling Atticus Pünd mystery series. Atticus Pünd’s latest detective novel, the manuscript of which accounts for half of Anthony Horowitz’s (real author) novel. The title also alludes to Agatha Christie’s love of nursery rhyme structures, with chapters based on “One for Sorrow,” about magpies.

It becomes immediately apparent that Mr. Horowitz’s novel is highly inspired by Agatha Christy and her oeuvre. Horowitz was the screen writer of “Agatha Christie's Poirot” a British TV series from 1991 – 2001. Then from 1997 to 2000 he wrote another British series “Midsummer Mysteries” He also wrote and created the popular TV series “ Foyle's War” of which he had written 22 episodes, which aired on PBS from 2002 to 2015.

The book reads like a BBC mystery shown on PBS or BBC America. The setting is the 1950’s, mostly in a small English village. Truth be told I almost gave up on the book two or three times within the first sixty or seventy pages as there was not much to draw me in. Let me say it was worth carrying on as Horowitz is one cleaver bastard. But not so cleaver that he shouldn’t have cut about a hundred pages or so.

Profile Image for Mel.
116 reviews89 followers
July 13, 2017
Enjoyable English Whodunnit with a twist -- a clever little story in a story that uncovers the "who" exactly dunnit in a full list of suspects (that could all be straight out of a game of Clue). Horowitz includes a nod to some of the great writers of mysteries, and sprinkles in a good shake of red herrings to keep you away from any quick conclusion. For fans of the genre, this is a well written respectable read that's not a bad way to spend a couple of afternoons. Overall, I regret that I didn't find a memorable character in this immense cast, and eventually I found myself reading just to quench a curiosity more lazy than intrigued.
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