Saturday, July 29, 2017

Magpie Murders, by Anthony Horowitz

This month I read Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz for my 4th Tuesday Evening Book Club at Books, Inc. in Palo Alto.  As I know I have mentioned before, the co-owner of the chain, Margie Scott Tucker, runs the club.  With her insights into book world, and her skill in running a book club, it's something I look forward to attending.  The other thing I enjoy about this club is that Margie picks a wide array of books.  And befitting variety, I have liked some of them more and some less.  This one was in the middle.  I gave it a 2.75/4.  I liked it okay but can't really recommend it.  Here's the synopsis:

Alan Conway is a bestselling crime writer.  His editor, Susan Ryeland, has worked with him for years, and she's intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pund, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages.  Alan's traditional formula pays homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers.  It's proved hugely successful.  So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.
When Susan receives Alan's latest manuscript, in which Atticus Pund investigates a murder at Pye Hall, an English manor house, she has no reason to think it will be any different from the others.  There will be dead bodies, a cast of intriguing suspects, and plenty of red herrings and clues.  But the more Susan reads, the more she realizes that there's another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript - one of ambition, jealousy, and greed - and that soon it will lead to murder.

I really didn't know Horowitz before MM.  But I was in the minority at the meeting.  Not only has he written 3 other novels, but he also wrote the very popular PBS TV series, Foyle's War.  In fact, everybody was waxing very enthusiastically about TV and somewhat less about the book.  But, despite all of that, there were definitely a few positives:

1.    It's a very creative premise.
2.    I liked the wide variety of characters in the novel within the novel.
3.    The book is very well-written.
4.    There was a character in the book that very much reminded me of Lady Virginia from Archer's The Clifton Chronicles.
5.    The Amazon rating is 4/5, and the Goodreads rating is 4.03/5.  There are obviously a bunch of people who liked this book more than I did.

But here's the deal.  I just didn't care.  In fact, before the last chapter, which solves the murder, I wasn't even thinking about whodunit.  So, in summary (pretty cliche, don't you think?):
- didn't care who committed the murder
- didn't connect with any of the characters
- didn't like it nearly as much as many others

I usually feel pretty strongly about the books I recommend or don't recommend.  That's not the case here.  I'm really on the fence with this one.  My advice to you?  Make your own decision and ignore my feedback.


  1. Hmm, I'm probably not enough of a mystery fan to give this a go.

    1. If you're only going to do an occasional mystery, I'd go with Harlan Coben. And the 1st one I would read is Fool Me Once.

  2. My son is reading this but I haven't heard any feedback.

    Nice post and review.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks. If you get a chance, let us know what he thinks.