Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (Harper Collins)


“There was going to be a funeral.”


This is two books lashed together as one. The first is a detective story. We are gently introduced in a slow, west country way, to the cast of villagers. The net curtains are drawn back to give us a peek at their inner lives. All may not be as tranquil as we may have thought. Soon we meet the great detective at a point of his own crisis. By page 45 we know enough to start to guess…the compass of guilt starts to swirl.

I admire Anthony Horowitz’s career. Among other things he was the creator and writer on TV’s Foyles War and also a successful series for children with Alex Rider and is ghost writing the next James Bond film Trigger Mortis. This is, so far, more Midsomer Murders with which he was also instrumental, only the story has moved up country to the Cotswolds…

The tempo is 1955 … everything is shaping to be a pretty good episode, but then, and this is a literary wake up call, the Agatha Christie upgrade morphs into something fascinatingly different, perhaps even more so than the original story, certainly psychologically.

Look out, there is drama ahead. We move back to London and the contemporary. There is a story within a story, a faction in the fiction. It is tricky to review without giving too much away and spoiling the highly enjoyable conceit. There are tricks here about writing and publishing that make for enjoyable easy reading of a different grain.

On the other hand, had Susan Ryeland been such a whizz of an editor, would she have allowed so many opportunities to pass her by, so many good characters to be idle? You have to read the whole piece to discuss, in fact this would be excellent material for any reading group. My own take, without giving anything away, is that serious villainy is down to motivation…



About drewsmith28

Words, words, words...
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