Book Review: Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

by Alaena Hope [March 12, 2021]

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz is rather unusual in that it is, in essence, two complete books in one. There is the ‘outside’ story, which is written from the point of view of an editor who has just received the manuscript for a new detective novel—the latest installment in an apparently hugely popular series. The second story is that very manuscript, which, thankfully, is included in its entirety. There was a moment in the book when I thought they wouldn’t include the end of the manuscript. If that had been the case, I think I would have been extremely angry.

Both the inside and outside stories are murder mysteries. The latter is centered around the death of the author of the former. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are several parallels between the two stories.

Though I enjoyed reading this book, I liked the inside story more than the outside one. And I spent most of the time that Susan, the editor, was investigating the author’s death waiting for the end of the manuscript. That’s not to say that the outside story didn’t have its moments. I was just more interested in the manuscript. I particularly liked the way the manuscript opened with a series of snapshots of various people’s lives as they related to the funeral with which the story begins. It managed to give quite clear pictures of a variety of people—and problems—in a very short amount of time and made me want to know what each character was hiding. It was those little secrets and the ways all the different lives intersected and not so much the murder mystery that drew me on.

It was both interesting and a little jarring to hear the editor’s perspective on the manuscript after essentially reading it with her. We apparently viewed the characters in the story very differently. Some of her actions were equally befuddling to me—like her interactions with the murderer after she discovered the truth. I would elaborate, but I can’t without giving too much away.

All in all, this was an interesting book (books?), although I could have done without the last few lines.

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