I really, really enjoyed this one. I’ve struggled the past several weeks to really get into the books I’m reading, even if I’m liking them. But I just fell into this book. Horowitz has a lot of fun playing around with his premise and the conventions of a whodunit, and it’s fun to read as a result.
The book opens with a frame story. Alan Conway, the famous author of the Atticus Pünd detective books, has turned in his last Pünd book, and his editor Susan Ryeland has hunkered down to read it. She warns us that reading the book changed her life, and then we also get to read the book. The majority of the first half of Magpie Murders is us slipping into the fictional world within a fictional world conceit. Pünd is a hybrid hero, very much on purpose recalling Agatha Christie and Poirot’s golden days, with touches of other famous literary detectives as well. Small touches here and there call out Horowitz’s knowledge of the genre, and thus his fictional author’s knowledge as well. All that to say, though the last Atticus Pünd book (called Magpie Murders, of course) becomes an artifact in the remainder of the book, the story itself was really quite fun to read as well.
And then halfway through, another mystery in the frame story starts up, involving the manuscript that Susan Ryeland has just read, as well as its author.
I love a good whodunit, and as this book has several, and pulls off all of them, I don’t think there was any way I wasn’t going to love it. It probably helps that this book seems to have been exactly what I was craving at the moment, but Horowitz is also just really good at what he does. If you like murder mysteries, and especially those in the vein of Lord Peter Wimsey or Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple, you should probably check this out.