Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Reviewer: JJ Marsh

What we thought: Your enjoyment of this book will depend very much on your disposition towards crime novels. It’s clever, full of in-jokes and so meta, it could eat itself. Horowitz leads us into not one but two crime dramas, with all the sly cunning and knowing winks of a truly accomplished Master of Ceremonies.

Magpie Murders, the latest manuscript of the bestselling Atticus Pund series of crime novels, is waiting on editor Susan Ryeland’s desk. She takes it home and begins to read. With her, we become absorbed in the novel and forget the framing device. So that when the end is missing, we are as frustrated as she is, demanding to know what happens next.

Susan hunts for the missing chapters, but the author has committed suicide. Or has he? The whodunnit around a whodunnit creates an echo chamber of characters, clues, insights into the world of publishing, literature and the classic tropes of crime writing. Who better to investigate the crime scene than an editor of fiction with an eye for detail?

The pace is country house drama, the characters plentiful and the setting exactly as it should be, both in the contemporary tale and the post-war murder mystery. Puzzles, hints and vital information in the Pund novel are examined by Susan as the reader cannot help but do the same with Susan’s own situation. In this way, Horowitz includes the reader as a central character in this familiar-yet-fresh drama. After all, where would crime fiction be without its readers?

You’ll enjoy this if you like: Crime fiction from Christie to Morse

Avoid if you don’t like: Long novels, classic crime, a book-within-a-book

Ideal accompaniments: A slice of layer cake, cocoa with a kick of rum and Aphex Twin’s Next Heap With

Available from Amazon

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