Title: Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
Book Beginnings quote:
(Prologue) COUCH END, LONDONA bottle of wine. A Family-sized packet of Nacho Cheese Flavored Tortilla Chips and a jar of salsa dip. A packet of cigarettes on the side (I know. I know). The rain hammering against the windows. And a book.What could be lovelier?Magpie Murders was number nine in the much-loved and world-bestselling Atticus Pünd series.
In a restaurant on the other side of London, Frances Pye cast a careless eye over the menu and ordered grilled sardines, a salad, a glass of white wine.
Summary: Susan Ryeland is an editor for Cloverleaf Books which publishes the vastly popular Atticus Pünd series. When Susan receives her copy of the ninth book in the series, Magpie Murders, she sets aside a whole weekend to read it. The author of the series, Alan Conway, is a difficult but talented man. In fact he is so difficult to work with Susan generally does all the behind the scenes work on new Conway manuscripts while the publisher, Charles Clover, deals with him face-to-face.
Magpie Murders is a classic Atticus Pünd crime/detective novel with a murder at the Pye manor house in a quaint English village. At first Ryeland is unaware that this book is any different than any of Conway's novels. There are dead bodies, lots of suspects, with plenty of red herrings and clues. And then the novel ends abruptly without solving the murders. Ryeland is forced to do a bit of detective work herself to find the last few chapters of the unpublished book.
Review: Magpie Murders uses a clever literary device of a murder mystery within a murder mystery. The entire Atticus Pünd novel is within the book but it ends incompletely. Susan Ryeland, the editor of the series, is sure she can track down the missing chapters then another death occurs and suddenly she is rereading the novel looking for clues.
My husband and I listened to the audio version of the Magpie Murders on two different recent road trips. The book is fairly long, over 15 hours of listening time, so we were in luck to have two trips planned in order to finish the book in a timely fashion. I enjoyed the book-within-a-book shtick, my husband, not so much. The story starts with Susan Ryeland snuggling down to read the latest Atticus Pünd novel. Once she starts reading, Magpie Murders takes over the next 300 pages or so, without revisiting Susan and what she is up to. When she finishes reading, the story line swings back to her for the next 250 pages. We meet her in the prologue and then again mid-book. For some reason this bothered my husband. Once I figured out what was happening, I was good.
I liked the setting, an English village, and I didn't figure out who-dunnit for either murder. I'm not a very sophisticated mystery reader so I was able to settle in and enjoy the ride the book took me on. And once my husband figured out the book's organization, he too seemed to enjoy it very much. Now I am wondering how this will work for book club. How does one go about discussing a mystery after you know the outcome? We'll see next month when we meet to discuss this one. One thing is for sure, I am a new Anthony Horowitz fan.
SOTH Book Club, November 2021