“You'd have thought that after twenty years editing murder mysteries I'd have noticed when I found myself in the middle of one.”
― Anthony Horowitz, Magpie Murders
I had heard so much about this Magpie Murders that my expectations were quite high when I finally picked it up. I didn't really know what to expect, but Horowitz is the man behind two of my favorite mystery series - Midsomer Murders and Foyle's War - that I was quite willing to take a chance on him.
Magpie Murders presents a story in a story, a device I often enjoy. It begins with editor Susan Ryeland who has received the final manuscript of a popular mystery series starring detective Atticus Pünd (not very subtly reminiscent of Hercule Poirot;-) Then comes the novel itself and it is quite a good little Golden Age caper. Pünd is an intriguing character and the mystery is clever. Then something happens (not spoilers here!) and Susan finds herself in the middle of a very real mystery.
I enjoyed the dual parts of this novel, and Horowitz is a clever, truly eloquent writer who is able to capture different voices and settings with apparent ease. Susan was a well-developed character and so was the (even more fictional?) Atticus Pünd. As a fan of Agatha Christie, as well as lots of contemporary authors of crime fiction, this novel was very satisfying. Though it was slower than I anticipated, I got used to this pace and it worked well with the atmosphere of the story. Magpie Murders is about more than just a mystery. It is about its characters, which is the type of novel I like best. Susan felt very real to me, and even Pünd, essentially a caricature, was fleshed out. Owing, perhaps, to his career in television, I kept thinking this would make for a good TV series or even a film as well, so I will keep an eye out for the inevitable announcement. I look forward to seeing what Horowitz comes up with next!