I feel like I should get credit for reading two books here, as once again, one entire novel is sandwiched around another in Anthony Horowitz’s second Susan Ryeland/Atticus Pünd murder(s) mystery.
And this time it’s murder squared.
In Moonflower Murders, Susan Ryeland (our heroine from Magpie Murders, which I thoroughly enjoyed) is running a hotel on Crete with her boyfriend Andreas, but instead of enjoying paradise, she feels miserable. The hotel’s got money problems, she’s working 24/7, and her relationship with Andreas is souring. When an English couple show up at the hotel and ask Susan to help them investigate their daughter’s disappearance, as they believe it to be related to a book Susan published in her old life and job, she jumps at the chance to escape. The couple run a hotel where a brutal murder took place 8 years ago. The book, Atticus Pünd Takes the Case, was one of a series of Pünd mysteries written Alan Conway, the star author of Susan’s old publishing house, and unbeknownst to her was loosely based on the old murder. Naturally, once again, Susan must use a Conway Pünd book as a guide to solving a very real current day murder mystery.
Magpie Murders was great fun and I was really looking forward to reading this. Unfortunately, either I’m in a funk or my reading choices are lately because this is the first in a slew of reads (I’m behind in my reviews, of course) that passed the time okay but mostly elicited a “meh” from me. I just want to be excited about reading again.
Anyway, much like Magpie Murders, I preferred the Pünd mystery to the “real life” one. I guessed the killer here immediately (although obviously the why was…something else). I think what somewhat soured me on this book in comparison to the previous is that Susan, a smart, determined, appealing middle-aged woman, is just tiresome here, always wanting to be wherever she isn’t and indifferent to any good things in her life. I guess it might be realistic, but I didn’t come here for a psychological study of modern ennui, and it was not particularly fun to read. And finally, VAGUE SPOILERS, it ends with (CONTENT WARNING SUICIDE) a suicide by jumping in front of a train and a note, and I’m honestly just not ready to deal with that situation in fiction yet for personal reasons.
So three stars for me, but I’d still recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of Horowitz’s other books.