By Anthony Horowitz
What more could a mystery reader ask for: a mystery nested inside a mystery written by the screenwriter who launched “Midsomer Murders” and “Foyle’s War”?
The first mystery we’re introduced to is fictional author Alan Conway’s final Atticus Pünd mystery, MAGPIE MURDERS.
Our heroine, Susan Ryeland, head of fiction at Cloverleaf Books, discovered Conway and edited all of his books.
On her return from a book tour, she finds Conway’s last manuscript on her desk and spends the weekend reading it. Just when Pünd is wrapping up the loose ends and about to point to the culprit, Susan realizes the final chapters are missing. Then, returning home from a Sunday event, she hears that Conway is dead, an apparent suicide.
Monday morning, she rushes to see her boss, Charles Clover. He shows her a handwritten letter from Conway, announcing that he is dying of cancer and suggesting that he is going to take his own life.
There’s still the issue of the missing chapters. They can’t publish an unfinished book — and it’s a nagging mystery to Susan why they are missing in the first place. Susan makes the leap from book editor to detective easily.
Conway is a deliciously nasty character liked by few. Many of his associates appear in unflattering terms in his mysteries although with disguised names and details. The parallels between the mystery Atticus Pünd is solving and the mystery that Susan is solving are fun to follow.
If you’re a fan of Agatha Christie mysteries or those of her colleagues from the Golden Age of British Detection Fiction, you’ll enjoy MAGPIE MURDERS. They pay homage to the quiet English village where evil secretly runs amok. On the other hand, if you don’t like classic “puzzle” mysteries, you might want to give this one a miss.
While telling two stories at the same time, Horowitz reveals insider information about long-running mystery series whose authors grew to hate their beloved fictional characters and attempted to kill them off. He takes pokes at authors who see themselves as leading lights of literature, demeaned by writing popular fiction. Lastly, he gives a little sneer to the publishing world milking authors for all the cash-creating books they can create.
The sequel to this book is MOONFLOWER MURDERS.
The Author: Anthony Horowitz, OBE (1955 – )
Anthony Horowitz is the author of the New York Times best-selling MORIARTY (2014) and the internationally best-selling THE HOUSE OF SILK (2011), both of which feature the classic detective Sherlock Holmes. He also wrote THE WORD IS MURDER (2017) and MINDGAME (2001).
He was also chosen by the Ian Fleming estate to write James Bond novels, beginning with TRIGGER MORTIS (2015).
Horowitz has written a number of books for young adult readers, including the Diamond Brothers series, the Alex Rider series and The Power of Five (or The Gatekeepers) series.
As a television screen writer he created “Midsomer Murders” and the BAFTA-winning “Foyle‘s War,” both of which were featured on PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery! He also contributed scripts to ITV’s “Agatha Christie’s Poirot,” “Collision” and “Injustice” and the BBC series “New Blood.”
Horowitz grew up in an upper middle class Jewish family. Overweight and unhappy, he turned to books. He knew from the age of eight that he wanted to be a writer. His mother introduced him to Frankenstein and Dracula and gave him a human skull for his 13th birthday.
He is married to Jill Green, who produced “Foyle’s War.” They live in Central London and have two sons.