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…
Magpie Murders is a beautifully constructed murder mystery in two timelines, with the two stories linked by the author Alan Conway. One is a book within a book, Conway’s latest Atticus Pund mystery, and the other is set in the modern day where Susan Ryeland is trying to find the missing last chapter of the book, following Conway’s sudden demise.
I love Anthony Horowitz and I remember buying this not long after it came out several years ago, but failed to read it at the time (which is sadly normal for me these days). I hadn’t forgotten about it exactly but two recent events definitely brought it back to mind:
- Britbox announced that a TV adaptation was coming to a screen near me soon; and
- the current season of The Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room on Instagram picked it as one of their selections
So what else could I do? And I’m glad I did pick it up because it is such fun and of course beautifully written. One of the things that I really loved was that the bulk of the Atticus Pund story is front-loaded so that we are reading it along with Susan and come to the realisation that the final chapter is missing and the story just stops dead along with her.
Why do English villages lend themselves so well to murder?
The modern day mystery is also very enjoyable as Susan goes off in search of the missing chapter and to fins out what actually happened to Alan Conway, whom she doesn’t even like, but who is their company’s biggest seller. Both aspects are excellent in their own right, but together they create something special.
I have also seen the first episode of the TV series and I can recommend it highly. Horowitz has written the script and changed the structure to fit the screen better. Wonderful cast and beautiful locations, I am deeply envious of all of the outfits that Lesley Manville (who plays Susan) is wearing in the series.
There is a sequel which I will try to pick up sooner rather than later.
Have you read this, and if so what did you think?