Any classic murder mystery book, especially those of the golden age of crime are notoriously in my opinion very difficult to review. You have to be careful not to give too many clues or even red herrings away.
This book fits into this category. An homage to those classic books of Christie, this has a few twists along the way. It is in fact a story within a story and at first you think how it can it all possibly work, not only are you reading a book which you want to clearly know the ending of, the book itself contains another mystery entirely,
You will be.
Having been given the latest manuscript, ‘Magpie Murders’ by author Alan Conway, editor Susan settles down to read the latest of his Atticus Pund novels. But this latest tale from him is rather different and it seems as if this could be the end for Atticus Pund and therefore the end of the income for the author and the publisher Susan works for.
Atticus and his assistant James Fraser, bear a striking resemblance to Poirot and Capt Hastings and they find themselves in a village where the lord of the manor has been decapitated and his cleaner fell to her death tripping over a Hoover. All connected or just mere coincidence?
Many motives, many suspects and when the murderer is about to be named.
There is no more manuscript left.
There is no answer to all those questions that have arisen in the enquiries.
Susan is left wondering and bereft. Even though she did not like Alan Conway as a person, he had the ability hook his readers in.
Susan decides to solve the mystery herself. Why?
Because Alan Conway is now dead. It seems there are some strikingly similar parallels to his real life and that of the final story he wrote.
Susan discovers who the real Alan Conway is, the hidden meanings in all his work but will she be able to ever solve the mystery that was in ‘Magpie Murders’.
I adored this book, it was such an homage to Agatha Christie, you could see so many of the clever ideas that were used in her books and which have kept fans enthralled for a number of years. Even the insertion of Matthew Pritchard into the story itself was clever and amusing. This is in no way a comic parody of any murder mystery novels, but a cleverly woven tale using so much of our rich history of crime novels. If you know your Christie and murder mystery novels you will see so many things that you did not realise before.
You will enjoy this book the first time through for the skill of the writing and the storytelling.
The second time you will see all the clues and red herrings and the nods to other literary works and detectives.
Next time you pick up a Christie apply all that you have learnt here.
A great read and one of my favourite of 2016.
Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.
Magpie Murders is out now.
My mum who got me into reading and especially Agatha Christie, thoroughly enjoyed the book and we are both disappointed that there will be no more Atticus Pund!