When editor Susan Ryeland is given the tattered manuscript of Alan Conway's latest novel, she has little idea it will change her life. She's worked with the revered crime writer for years, and his detective, Atticus Pund, is renowned for solving crimes in the sleepy English villages of the 1950s.
As Susan knows only too well, vintage crime sells handsomely. It's just a shame that it means dealing with an author like Alan Conway....
But Conway's latest tale of murder at Pye Hall is not quite what it seems. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but hidden in the pages of the manuscript there lies another story: a tale written between the very words on the page, telling of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition and murder.
From Sunday Times best seller Anthony Horowitz comes Magpie Murders, his deliciously dark take on the vintage crime novel, brought bang up to date with a fiendish modern twist.
Read by Samantha Bond and Allan Corduner.
©2016 Anthony Horowitz (P)2016 Orion Publishing Group
Now listen to A LOT of audio books, but I rarely write a review.
I know Anthony Horowitz from all his teen books and was not sure what to expect from this.
The story was excellent and I kept up with the twists and turns but a no point did I guess......
The double story line is very good and I could easily be converted to this type of story if there are more like this.
Allan and Samantha as narrators were excellent!
5 stars all round.
A man with a child in his ears
I do like it when an author attempts to take an existing genre and try to add a new twist to freshen things up! So, having very much enjoyed his dip into the world of Sherlock Holmes with Moriarty this book by Anthony Horowitz seemed like a must-read. I liked the prologue which sets the modern day scene before we descend into the author’s take on Agatha Christie in the nineteen fifties. The way that the book is made relevant to the modern day part of the book is intelligent and well thought out in the style of classic whodunnit writers. The parallels between the murder mystery and the situation that the modern day Susan Ryeland finds herself in are done subtly and intelligently making the two stories relevant to each other without them ever becoming too similar. The narration by both Allan Corduner and Samantha Bond was perfect for their respective parts and the decision to go with two narrators rather than one was extremely sound. They each generated just the right atmosphere for their respective stories.
The one problem I had personally is that I did not find either story hugely engaging. While there was cleverness the first was a little bit like listening to an Agatha Christia tribute band rather than a genuine new story and both seemed possibly a little longer than they really needed to be to me. For the old book, part of the problem is that Atticus Punt is meant to be a much-loved character of eight previous books and obviously we haven’t built up the affection for him as we would say a Poirot. So it’s a book that I will look back on as clever and original rather than exciting. Big fans of the patient classic whodunit genre may well find much more to like with not only familiar territory but a clever new twist in the marriage of the fictional book within the story and Susan Ryeland’s tale.
I can’t help but feel there was actually a third story here. Is Horrowitz telling us something about himself and how he has journeyed as an author? To say his style has changed over the years would be an understatement . . . food for thought generated by a clever and enjoyable book.
The story is told in two parts and I found the split narrative really interesting. The author parodies much of his previous work so the contrast is amusing. The characters are lively and the pace is quick to keep you guessing what twist will come next, two stories for the price of one, bargain! Faultless execution of a good tale.
Excellent murder mystery. Plenty of twists to keep you hooked right to the end! Starts out very 'Agatha Christie-ish' but then deviates in a very unexpected way. Lovely narration too.
I listen to a lot of audiobooks when walking. This was extremely well written and the narration really brings out the best of the book.
If you like whodunnits you'll love this slice of richly subversive genre bending. I loved Magpie Murders' book within a book. The problem is I think I loved the 'fictional' book more than the one wrapped around it in 'real life'. In Atticus Punt, Horowitz has a created a genuinely wonderful 50s detective. The crime Atticus solves is way more interesting and the characters surrounding him are infinitely more complex than the ones found in the modern day story. But perhaps that's the irony here - readers like myself gobble up these quaint murder mysteries by the bucketload simply to get away from the ugly mundanity of modern life. By placing the two worlds side by side in a novel Horowitz is perhaps showing us why we like jumping down the rabbit hole to St Mary Mead so much...
When I started this book I hadn’t realised that it would be two interesting and inventive stories intertwined. The scene is set as book editor, Susan Ryeland, receives the manuscript of a detective novel, Magpie Murders, by fictitious author, Alan Conway. The Magpie murder novel is then read to us. It is a story set in the 1950s England and featuring private detective Atticus Pund, a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany and very much a pastiche of Agatha Christie’s Poirot series but with the main character not as well-drawn, perhaps because her Poirot character was developed over many books and latterly enhanced by David Suchet’s masterly incarnation. Magpie Murders turns out to be a plodding story at first but gradually gathers momentum.
To Susan’s dismay the last chapters of Magpie Murders, that contain the denouement, are missing from the manuscript and are nowhere to be found. To add to this disaster, the author has apparently killed himself just after delivering the manuscript. The search for the missing pages and the reason for the author’s death create the second story set in recent times. The modern story is much more engaging than the old-fashioned Conway novel. I think this was the intention of Anthony Horowitz, for embedded in the modern story there are allusions to styles of writing and also what kinds of books are highly rated by critics, but not necessarily by readers. The fictitious author feels detective fiction isn’t ‘real’ writing, despises his Atticus Pund novels and longs for recognition as a serious writer. Extracts from Conway’s attempt to write a profound analysis of society are used to illustrate bad, pretentious prose.
By the end of of the present book I thought it was altogether a very clever construction and that the two stories worked well together. If you’re afficionado of Agatha Christie you’ll chuckle at the references to her characters and books buried in Magpie Murders. Both stories have clues to the denouements and as usual I didn’t guess the outcomes!
Both narrators are excellent
I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of this book in which we hear the "fictional" story of Magpie Murders, written in the style of the Golden Age detective story and reminiscent of the better Hercule Poirot stories. Frustratingly the final chapter(s) are missing and the second half deals with the attempts of Susan Ryland, the publisher, to find out what happened to these. Sadly this part of the book is very long drawn out, and a bit tedious with quite a lot of repetition and Ms Ryland is not all that interesting a character. Some tough editing would have improved this book immensely. If allowed I would give part 1 4* and part 2 2*.
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