Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Anthony Horowitz' clever, beautifully pitched Magpie Murders is one of the two best books I've read so far this year (Lori Rader-Day's The Day I Died is the other.). Horowitz' voice is perfect for a "British whodunit with a country house setting, a complicated murder, a cast of suitably eccentric characters and a detective who arrived as an outsider." And, for those of us who love traditional village mysteries, he really puts a whodunit inside a whodunit.

Editor Susan Ryeland plans a weekend of reading the ninth manuscript in Alan Conway's popular Atticus Pünd series. Set in Saxby-on-Avon in 1955, the manuscript tells of a housekeeper, Mary Blakiston, who fell down the stairs at Pye Hall. Or did she? Rumors fly in the village, and Mary's son, Robert, is considered a suspect in the "accidental" death. Robert's fiancée, Joy Sanderling, asks Atticus Pünd to investigate. Although Pünd refuses, when Sir Magnus Pye is murdered in the manor house, the detective and his assistant travel to the small village to investigate. It's a case filled with eccentric suspects, but Pünd recognizes the killer.

However, Ryeland doesn't recognize the killer. She does know, though, that there seems to be some similarities between Pünd's situation in the most recent mystery, and that of the author himself. The editor turns sleuth in order to find out the truth behind the new book, Magpie Murders. Arguments, suspicion, death. Which story is Ryeland living, and which one is she reading? Horowitz manipulates the editor and her suspicions while juggling the two storylines.

When I read Anthony Horowitz' The House of Silk, I said he had the voice right for a Sherlock Holmes story. The same can be said for Magpie Murders. It's a beautifully written British village mystery within a British traditional mystery. It's an homage to Agatha Christie. Horowitz grasps the meaning of the traditional mystery. His Detective Inspector Chubb sees the changes in a village after a murder. "Murder changed everything. It broke the gentle rhythm of life. It turned neighbour against neighbour. Suddenly nobody was to be trusted and doors, which were usually left open at night, were locked."

In Magpie Murders, the author skillfully turns neighbor against neighbor, character against character, and, with the complex telling of two stories, leaves the reader suspecting almost everyone.Horowitz' Magpie Murders is another gem.

Anthony Horowitz' website is www.anthonyhorowitz.com

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. HarperCollins. 2017. ISBN 9780062645227 (hardcover), 464p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I's not surprising that Horowitz can do a village mystery well after all the scripts he's written for MIDSOMER MURDERS. He is also the creator of the great FOYLE'S WAR.

Lesa said...

I know. Someday, I have to get back to Foyle's War. You're right, Jeff.

Nan said...

I've saved your post for when I read the book. It is on the shelf waiting for me.

Lesa said...

Oh, good. I'd love you to come back and tell me what you thought of the book after you read it, Nan.

Abbey said...

Lesa, this sounds DELICIOUS!!! and yer review ain't bad neither! (grin)

in fact, it's so good it made me wish I was still reviewing for Mystery News and RTE etc. like I used to! loved reviewing (and writing about books via DotL & 4MA), still do, but energy and access far more limited than used to be, alas! still, as soon as my library gets a copy, *I AM IN!*!!

Lesa said...

Abbey! Thank you for your kind comments and your enthusiasm. I hope you enjoy the book.

Abbey said...

"enthusiasm", yeah. sorry re. all the !!!!! L. get carried away sometimes... ...often (grin)

actually my reviews tend to be very precise and rather less extravagant. um, when they get done, that is. I was always one of those weird little kids who *liked* dictionaries, y'see and the power of words and their precision, well, still grabs me!

Lesa said...

Abbey, I love the enthusiasm. How can I object when someone is excited about a book? I think it's great.