Review of MAGPIE MURDERS by Anthony Horowitz

MAGPIE MURDERS
Anthony Horowitz
2017
HarperCollins

Magpie Murders opens in the present day, with editor Susan Ryeland curled up in bed in her London flat. She has wine, snacks, cigarettes, and appropriate mystery-reading weather, rain. She’s settling in with the latest manuscript of the ninth Atticus Pünd mystery, Magpie Murders, written by her publisher’s highest grossing and most irascible author, Alan Conway. Four pages later, we leave Susan behind, and the Atticus Pünd mystery begins. This novel within a novel starts with a new, nearly identical title page. The difference is the author’s name — Alan Conway this time instead of Anthony Horowitz.

This story is set in the 1950s in a traditional English village with an antique shop, a pub, a manor house, a black lake, and a green dell. When a murder occurs in the village, it fetches up not Hercule Poirot but Atticus Pünd. Allusions and direct references to Agatha Christie recur throughout the mystery. True to form, there are plenty of suspects to consider from the ubiquitous colorful cast of locals, who all harbor dark secrets. Then, at a tantalizing cliffhanger, just when the first few pages of the book are a distant memory, there is a confounding twist that doubles the set of suspects, the clues, and the red herrings. The plot is wonderfully intricate. You will go through loads of pencil lead trying to keep track of it all, in hopes of solving the puzzle before the end, when everything is neatly tied up for you.

 

Susan Hammerman