Book of the Week: The Magpie Murders – Anthony Horowitz

Horowitz has had bestsellers with both his previous takes on genre mysteries: Moriarty and Trigger Mortis. With Sherlock Holmes and James Bond under his belt, Horowitz this time offers us a delightful homage to Agatha Christie. The bonus of a book-within-a-book structure is icing on the cake.

The story opens with editor Susan Ryeland settling in to read the manuscript of her bestselling author’s latest mystery novel. Alan Conway may be a pill but his creation–Detective Atticus Pünd—is a reliable hit and cash cow for the small publishing house.

So Susan starts reading and we’re treated to a new Pünd novel. And like her, we’re caught up short when we realize the novel is incomplete. Susan arrives at work the next morning to hear that Alan Conway has died and the “real life” mystery is afoot! When Susan realizes that the characters in the new Pünd manuscript might be stand-ins for people in Conway’s life, the author’s suicide suddenly looks like it could be murder.

All in all, a very satisfying clockwork–smart fun and a great beach read handsell for the Indies.

Magpie Murders has been chosen as a Book of the Month pick at several stores I work with and booksellers and librarians have chosen it as the #1 Indie Next and LibraryReads picks for June. There will be major review coverage on sale and the book has already received three starred advance reviews. It will be part of the NYT Summer Reading Feature and NPR will run a Lynn Neary interview with Horowitz.

A preternaturally brainy novel within a novel that’s both a pastiche and a deconstruction of golden-age whodunits…. Fans who still mourn the passing of Agatha Christie, the model who’s evoked here in dozens of telltale details, will welcome this wildly inventive homage/update/commentary as the most fiendishly clever puzzle—make that two puzzles—of the year.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[T]wo mysteries for the price of one, crafting a classic whodunit within a modern mystery… combined, they result in a delightful puzzle. Fans of Agatha Christie and the BBC’s Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War (both written by Horowitz) will relish this double mystery.”
Library Journal (starred review)

A treat for fans of golden age mysteries with this tour de force that both honors and pokes fun at the genre…. Poirot-like sleuth Atticus Pünd, a German concentration camp survivor who has settled in England, tackles an Agatha Christie–like puzzle in 1955 Saxby-on-Avon…. Horowitz throws in several wicked twists as the narrative builds to a highly satisfying explanation of the prologue.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“As a huge fan of 2014’s Moriarty, it didn’t surprise me that Anthony Horowitz managed to create his own, instantly iconic version of an Agatha Christie detective in Magpie Murders. What did surprise me was discovering that novel stuffed, like a Russian nesting doll, into a second novel concerning a book editor convinced that the suicide of her most lucrative client––the arrogant mystery writer responsible for the Christie homage––was really murder. Yes, this have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too approach is awfully, often deliciously clever, but Horowitz knows that the best whodunits are more than puzzles to be solved. I relished every plot twist, but it’s the novel’s insights into fame, privacy, and fiction-making itself that kept me turning pages.”
—  Sam Krowchenko, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI

Magpie Murders (9780062645227) by Anthony Horowitz. $27.99 hardcover. 6/6/17 one day laydown.

 

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