Foyle’s War. Midsomer Murders. Agatha Christie’s Poirot. If you’re a fan of these three TV series, then “Magpie Murders” may be the book for you.
That’s because, like the prestige television, the book is written by Anthony Horowitz. He’s also written the Sherlock Holmes novel “The House Of Silk and Moriarty”, and James Bond titles “Triggor Mortis” and “Forever And A Day”.
That’s quite a track record, and only a fraction of his literary output. And yet I’d never read any of his work. Until now.
Recently I’ve been working through my bookshelves, reading books that have been waiting for too long. And there was his “Magpie Murders”, from 2016, paperback 2017.
Two whodunnits in one
Gosh, what I’ve been missing! This is a remarkably clever book. And great value: two whodunnits in one!
It opens with editor Susan Ryeland reading the manuscript for writer Alan Conway’s latest Atticus Pünd whodunnit, the seventh in his successful series. We then shift to reading it ourselves; a different typeface signifies the transition.
We’re with Poirot-esque sleuth Pünd as he’s brought in to investigate a murder. It’s happened at Pye Hall, in a sleepy 1950s village – quite like Midsomer! He is painstaking in his enquiries, with the necessity to explain things to his traditional less-bright sidekick allowing the reader insight into his thinking.
We’re nearing the final chapters and the reveal of who did do it . . . only to ping back to Susan’s viewpoint as she discovers the final chapter is missing. And then Alan Conway dies. It seemed to be by his own hand . . . but was it?
From there we’re into another whodunnit, as Susan follows both instinct and clues to discover whether it was suicide or murder, and who might have dunnit and why.
This is such an incredibly clever and layered novel. And the nods throughout, to Conan Doyle, to Agatha Christie, even to “Midsomer Murders” – it’s a delicious read. I was desperate to know how it resolved, and yet didn’t want to rush it in case I missed a vital clue.
I’m just annoyed with myself that it took me so long to rediscover it on my bookshelf!
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