MINM Review: Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

A tour de force valentine to books and reading, in general, and to the British whodunit murder mysteries of the golden age, in particular. Magpie Murders wins the award for the most highly developed plot read by Mystery in Minutes in 2017, and it would make a wonderful choice for the bookish traditionalist on your holiday season gift list.

Violence: Mild-to-Moderate

Profanity: Mild

Sexual Content: None

Explicit Language: None

Animal Cruelty: Mild

Thrilling Action: Mild

Red Herrings: High

Twists and Turns: Moderate

Suspense: Mild

Plot Development: High

Character Development: Moderate

Length: 15 hrs. 47 mins. (Audio Book)

Pages: 502 (Hardcover)

Best for Crime Fiction Readers:

  • Who enjoy classic, quintessentially British, whodunit murder mysteries, like the work of Dame Agatha Christie. Magpie Murders is more of a literary, intellectual puzzle with a labyrinthine plot, "a country house setting, a complicated murder, a cast of suitably eccentric characters, and a detective who arrives as an outsider"; it may not be the best choice for die-hard action thriller fans.
  • Who appreciate "bibliomysteries". Magpie Murders employs a book-within-a-book (with literary references) structure, to great effect. 
  • Who don't mind crime fiction with a large cast of characters, which, in the case of Magpie Murders, makes for great fun in terms of red herrings and potential suspects.
  • Who appreciate historical crime fiction. Much of this mystery-within-a-mystery takes place in the 1950s, and there are some brief references to World War 2, and to the holocaust. Fans of Hercule Poirot will probably love the German-Greek detective of the 1950s sections. Incidentally, the more contemporary portions of Mr. Horowitz's novel feature an intelligent, independent, female,  "amateur detective".
  • If you enjoy listening to audio books, Mystery in Minutes recommends the top-notch performance of Magpie Murders by narrators Samantha Bond and Allan Corduner.

MINM Overall Rating: 5/5

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz Book Cover Image.jpg

Publisher's Blurb:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Moriarty and Trigger Mortis, this fiendishly brilliant, riveting thriller weaves a classic whodunit worthy of Agatha Christie into a chilling, ingeniously original modern-day mystery.

When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.

Masterful, clever, and relentlessly suspenseful, Magpie Murders is a deviously dark take on vintage English crime fiction, in which the reader becomes the detective.