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.