A bottle of wine.
With a first line like that was it any wonder I was hooked by the latest offering from Anthony Horowitz?! The boy very kindly bought me this book for Christmas as I loved The House of Silk and as I have a penchant for murder mysteries too it seemed like a perfect pressie – and it was! (The fact he now wants to borrow it had, I’m sure, nothing to do with the selection…!)
Editor Susan Ryeland is reading the latest offering from her highly successful crime writer, Alan Conway, when she realises that the final chapters of his last book are missing. The next day in the office, when investigating where the final chapters could be, Susan’s Publisher announces that Conway has committed suicide. Is his death related to the missing pages or could they even be the reason he was killed?
Magpie Murders is an exceptionally clever book – a murder mystery wrapped in another murder mystery. You start by reading Susan’s tale before you delve deep into the story she is reading, the final Alan Conway novel. Feeling as unsatisfied as she does when the story abruptly ends, you then pick up with Susan again as she looks for the missing pages. Sounds complicated but Horowitz’s accessible and fast-paced writing makes the transitions simple and easy to follow (a different font also helps!).
The credentials and strength of Horowitz’s murder-mystery-writing background are clear throughout Magpie Murders with mysterious clues, red herrings and suspicious characters at every turn. The tale within the tale is a perfect golden-age crime story, written in a tone and voice that harks back to the greats of Christie and Chandler, yet it doesn’t overshadow the modern mystery – they compliment each other as much as they intertwine.
There is nothing about this book that I didn’t enjoy. It instantaneously makes you desperate to solve two crimes – racing towards finding the final chapters, desperately hoping for the answer to not only Susan’s mystery but the other fictional one too! Horowitz has created a wonderful modern mystery with Magpie Murders and I look forward to chatting it over with the boy once he’s read it!