This book might as well have been written for me to be honest. Murder mystery and the world of publishing – what more could I want as a crime novel enthusiast desperately trying to become an editor? Anyway, the whole nature of a whodunit dictates that I’m fairly limited on how much I can say without giving stuff away but I’ll give you the basics.
The verisimilitude Horowitz employs from the very start of Magpie Murders makes it quite confusing but assume that all I say about it is fictional.
We open with a warning from the editor of a book called ‘Magpie Murders’, written by an author called Alan Conway. Her name is Susan Ryeland and she tells us how the book has changed her life. She now has no job, no friends and seems to have been basically exiled as a result of this manuscript that crossed her desk.
It’s cleverly done, especially on audiobook, as we then get the introduction to ‘Magpie Murders’. Orion audio have even cleverly had the (real life voice actor) narrator, Alan Corduner, reintroduce himself as if this is the start of the story proper. What follows is the ninth in the series of the fictional Atticus Pundt novels. ‘Magpie Murders’ is written very much in the style of an Agatha Christie novella. It’s set in a small village in Somerset in 1950s England and a foreign detective comes in at the request of a young woman in distress to investigate the two deaths that have recently occurred. We are immediately reminded of Poirot and it is difficult to take such a blatant homage seriously, but the beauty of Magpie Murders is that we are not supposed to.
It turns out that there is a whole lot more going on that we first suspected and we return to Susan Ryeland’s narrative someway in.
This is so hard. I can’t really say anymore without giving away key plot details but this review so far is far too short!
Right, bits I can talk about. I love how contemporary this book is. There are references to a whole realm of real world authors, tv shows, publishing houses and locations. This is ultimately a pastiche of the whodunit genre and I love a pastiche. The Agatha Christie echo is prevalent throughout and is heartily recognised within the text – Ryeland even meets Christie’s grandson, Mathew Prichard, but there are certain plot points, character names and the like that seem to have been adapted from elsewhere as well. I could be wrong as it may just be that I love these books but I felt that Horowitz was making reference to JK Rowling/Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike novels too, particularly the second, The Silkworm: 2 (Cormoran Strike). Like I say, I could just be seeing what I want to see.
It’s a story that is full of puzzles and I am not ashamed the say I solved very few of them.
I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about the resolution of the mysteries. I will say I wasn’t massively surprised but neither was it disappointing.
That’s pretty much all I can say. I’m a big fan of Anthony Horowitz generally but this is his first ‘grown-up’ book I’ve read and now I will probably read more. This is a lovely homage to a genre even if it is rather frustrating to try and review!