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Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

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Anne Craig

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz is actually a novel within a novel and as such there is more than one mystery which the reader is immersed in. Both plots are superb and enthralling but I would suggest that ‘the manuscript’ does contain similarities to some of the superb mystery series mentioned such as Poirot and Midsommer Murders. It is helpful that the plot of the manuscript is in a different typeset and this gives the feel that you have joined the main character, Susan Ryeland, on her couch and sharing her wine and crisps – all cosy and reading the manuscript.

This book is a delightful mosaic of a golden age murder mystery, wrapped up in a contemporary mystery. Each one was a wonderfully engaging story and an intriguing puzzle; and the inventiveness and proficiency of the connection between the two made this book a joy to read. Part of the fun in the reading of this book was in not only trying to solve each individual mystery, but also in discovering the connections between the two.

For the traveller this hardback book is not ideal but once available in paperback I could imagine lying on a deckchair in the sun, drinking a glass of wine (à la Susan) and immersing myself in the 304 pages of intrigue.

Toni Tope

Out of the blue a copy of Magpie Murders was delivered to me just a couple of weeks ahead of a busy Christmas period. It's a large book and I wondered how on earth I would find time to read it before the review deadline of January 3rd. Once I opened the book it seemed an even more impossible task. The beginning is quite confusing and needs concentration. But having eventually found time to work through the first 10 pages and then re-reading them several times I was hooked.

Author Anthony Horowitz has created two very clever murder mysteries in one book. There are lots of characters to keep track of in the two parallel stories and you have to keep your wits about you but you will find yourself well rewarded with an excellent read.

Thank you Viking for introducing me to an author I was unfamiliar with and who’s other books I now can't wait to read.

Helen Bensley

The Magpie Murders is a book of two related halves, the first Agatha Christie style - but better. The second half is set in modern day publishing.

It held my attention, it needed to be read properly. You cannot skim through it (clues would be missed), but so well written not to be a problem. I enjoyed it, I would recommend to those who enjoy slower paced whodunit's.

Diana Barker

When church attending do-gooder, Mary Blakiston, falls to her death at her workplace, the villagers assume her son, Robert, has murdered her. His fiancé, Joy Sanderling, calls in renowned, terminally ill, detective, Atticus Pund, to quell the rumours. It becomes apparent that more and more of the villagers had reason to kill Mrs Blakiston. And then another death, even more gory and mysterious than the first, ensues...

This book is a real page-turner. Anthony Horowitz describes village life in the 1950s beautifully. The characters are multi-dimensional and well-drawn. Like all good who-dun-its, we are kept guessing right to the end, and the final denouement is a tour-de-force. Highly Recommended.

Wendy Suffield

After a brief introduction to the editor at the heart of this book, Susan Ryeland, we are plunged into the manuscript of the whodunnit that she tells us upfront changed her life.

‘Magpie Murders’ is a book within a book, a sub-Agatha Christie archetypal village murder mystery set in the 1950s. I was initially both irritated by the typewriter-style typeface (to denote that this is Alan Conway’s writing, not Anthony Horowitz’s), and disappointed that the writing from this talented author was so old-fashioned and archetypal. But stick with it, readers, because Anthony Horowitz is playing with us and our assumptions. I am no afficionado of the whodunnit, despite reading quite a few in my time, but I’m sure if I were it would add even more to my appreciation of this clever and enjoyable book.

As life begins to imitate art, and the author appears to commit suicide, Susan’s attempt to find the missing part of the manuscript leads to another mystery requiring a solution, and has implications for her own life choices. Revealing insights into the publishing world, clever wordplay and labyrinthine plots twists result in a satisfying and thought-provoking read – highly recommended.

Barbara Towell

A recommended read for those who enjoy a well expressed, gripping tale! This crime novel not only offers two stories in one, but is a real page turner. Superbly crafted, it is filled with intrigue and contains many plausible suspects. Horowitz does not disappoint his readers; for as one would expect, he creates a real sense of time and place, and as always, his attention to detail is impressive. Indeed, you will feel you know your way round Saxby-on-Avon by the time you have finished reading the novel. Once begun, 'Magpie Murders' will be hard to put down until the last murder is solved. A great way to finish off a busy day cruising or to read whilst relaxing in the ship's lounge.

Catherine Redeyoff

The author, Anthony Horowitz created the Alex Rider books, that my son was an avid reader of, and also the latest James Bond novel, Trigger Mortis. He wrote several episodes of Midsomer Murders and this storyline has similarities, set in a sleepy English village where secrets lie just beneath the surface of everyday rural life.

Magpie Murders is more than just a whodunnit. It’s a story inside a story as the world of fiction and reality become intertwined. There are plenty of great characters to feel suspicious of, and plenty more to care about. I love to come across a book that has something unexpected and original and this has both. I enjoyed the first part of the book as the characters became familiar, and the end of the book was gripping, waiting to see all the twists unfurled. I did get a bit bogged down in the middle, but overall I would recommend this book and being a member of a book club means I come across good books that I otherwise wouldn’t have picked up and enjoyed.

Paul Need

One of the pleasures of a cruising holiday is looking through the on board library and picking a book to read for relaxation. To be fair, I would not normally have picked this; a clichéd titled, a murder mystery, an oddball detective with a loyal but limited sidekick, surely these were things I grew out of when I abandoned Agatha Christie in my teens.

But nothing is ever what it seems with Anthony Horowitz. The way he builds a book within a book is original and inspired. At one time he is describing perfectly the atmosphere of the 50s with his character building and scene settings. His list of possible suspects with their varying motives and his enigmatic but flawed detective is so reminiscent of the great Christie. Then wrapped cleverly around this is the present day mystery, current, playful and full of clever digs at the world of publishing and jokes at the author's expense.

So for me it became the perfect book for the Christmas break; one to be dipped into when time allowed but with plenty of twists to keep me entertained and a satisfactory denouement. A worthy addition to the on board library!

Alan Rowse

I was delighted to receive a copy of this murder mystery novel which was on my Christmas list. This hardback edition of the book is pleasing to the eye, with an interesting dust jacket and decorated end papers, though it required some concentrated thought to appreciate the interior formatting.

The reader is to understand that the plot involves a book publishing company employee, who is trying to find the missing, final chapter of a murder mystery, when inadvertently, she becomes involved in tracing the murderer of the author whose manuscript she had been reading.

To supply more detail would give too much away, but I can say I found the novel well crafted, entertaining and intriguing, and while I am often successful in solving such conundrums, this one kept me guessing until the final pages.

I can heartily recommend “Magpie Murders”; it is much more than a simple crime novel.

Pamela McDonald

A crime novel set within a crime novel, a clever and intriguing device which kept me turning the pages wanting to discover more.!

The novel begins with a forward by the editor of the Atticus Pund novels, a warning that the novel is not what it seems to be and is in fact a life changing experience. It then proceeds with the latest novel about the detective, a Poirot like character without the vanity, but just as it has lulled you into the familiar type of plot, the tempo changes and jolts you into twists and turns you had not expected.

I didn't find the denouement as thrilling as the journey. The reason for the murder did not seem to me to be a sufficient cause but having said that, this is a book for long winter nights, a book you don't want to put down until you get to the last page.

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