When editor Susan Ryeland is given the tattered manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has little idea it will change her life. She’s worked with the revered crime writer for years and his detective, Atticus Pund, is renowned for solving crimes in the sleepy English villages of the 1950s. As Susan knows only too well, vintage crime sells handsomely. It’s just a shame that it means dealing with an author like Alan Conway…
But Conway’s latest tale of murder at Pye Hall is not quite what it seems. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but hidden in the pages of the manuscript there lies another story: a tale written between the very words on the page, telling of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition and murder.
Alan Conway’s Atticus Pund has seen better days, he’s not a well man and in fact has a limited time left on this earth and in Magpie Murders, Conway is determined to give Atticus Pund a final hurrah, a fitting send-off for a character who has given so much to the author.
Magpie Murders is a book that keeps on giving and is in fact two books for the price of one, a story within a story if you like – the first set after the Second World War in a sleepy English village and the second bring us bang up to date in modern times. I remember reading the first part of the book and I’d reached the middle of the book and wondered where Anthony Horowitz was going to take the story. I was initially confused but it soon became apparent as to what had happened!
There are numerous red herrings throughout, sleight of hand springs to mind, Horowitz is a crafty old bugger – in the nicest possible way! He has you leaning one way and then a few chapters down the line you begin questioning your own reasoning. Fascinating stuff!
I was immediately transported to the 1950’s and village life, the good and the bad, and to be honest I felt quite at home there, from squeaky bicycles to former criminals trying to go straight, a busy body and a lord of the manor who wasn’t exactly the most endearing of characters. Close your eyes and the imagination would run riot. Think Agatha Christie and you won’t go far wrong.
There is no Sherlock Holmes this time around although Pund does have his trusty sidekick!
I did find it rather interesting how the feel and pace of the book changed for the second half, set in the present. The narrative has a certain fluidity to it, easier to read and the characters allowed the pace of the book to intensify. Even though the second half felt very different to the first there’s still ample room for the author to throw in the odd curve ball and you end up finishing the book and thinking – why didn’t I see that?!!
Another good read from Anthony Horowitz. A quirky murder mystery that will definitely keep you guessing until the end. After all it’s all rather Elementary!
- Hardcover:464 pages
- Publisher:Orion (6 Oct. 2016)