Anthony Horowitz performs some impressive mental gymnastics in delivering this satisfying whodunit. “Magpie Murders” is a mystery within a mystery (neither of which I solved!) written in the classic style of Agatha Christie.
I’ll try very hard not to include any spoilers in this review, but it’s really hard to describe this book without letting a little bit of the cat out of the bag. So let the reader beware.
Susan Ryeland works for a small publishing house whose cash cow author, Alan Conway, has written eight novels in his highly successful Atticus Pund mystery series. Susan is Alan’s editor, but she’s always held him at arm’s length because, well, he’s an arrogant jerk. This seems to be a commonly held opinion, but when a guy’s books are paying the bills, what can you do?
When Alan turns in the draft for his ninth and final Atticus Pund novel, Susan settles in for a weekend of reading. We get to read along with her because the draft of the novel is contained within this novel. The novel within the novel is well done and I found myself wishing there was actually an Atticus Pund series.
However, there is a big problem with Susan’s draft. It’s missing the last chapter, you know, the reveal, the most important part of a mystery novel! Before Susan can contact Alan and get the missing part, she receives news of his death. Suddenly, Susan finds herself in the role of detective as she tries to hunt down the missing chapters and satisfy her own curiosity about the circumstances of Alan’s death.
That’s probably as much about the plot as I should discuss.
I really like mysteries that I’m not able to solve before the reveal. In my opinion, when you figure out a whodunit midway through, it can be tedious to continue reading until the very end. I didn’t have that issue with this novel. I didn’t figure it out and it kept my attention until the very end. The fact that the author delivered two very clever mysteries within one novel is pretty remarkable. Well done, Mr. Horowitz!
Have you read “Magpie Mysteries” or any other good mysteries recently? Please share in the comments section.
And thanks go out to my sister, Jenifer, for recommending “Magpie Murders”!