Mystery Within a Mystery

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Grade: A+

I began this year of reading with Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. I gave it an A+ grade, because I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery within a mystery. The book begins with the frame story, giving us a glimpse of an editor who is about to delve into her bestselling mystery author’s latest work.

A bottle of wine. A family-sized packet of Nacho Cheese Flavoured Tortilla Chips and a jar of hot salsa dip. A packet of cigarettes on the side (I know, I know). The rain hammering against the windows. And a book. What could have been lovelier?

But the introduction takes a dark turn, because this protagonist already knows how her life has turned out.

I had no idea of the journey I was about to begin and, quite frankly, I wish I’d never allowed myself to get pulled on board. It was all down to that bastard Alan Conway.

Alan Conway is the fictional author whose book she (and we) are about to read, and of course, there will be many surprises along the way. I can’t say more without spoiling the plot. I recommend this book for readers who love mysteries, and particularly for fans of Agatha Christie, whose work is referenced often. I also recommend it for lovers of language and wordplay, the kind of readers who would admire this self-justifying run-on sentence:

You read and you read and you feel the pages slipping through your fingers until suddenly there are fewer in your right hand than there are in your left and you want to slow down but you still hurtle on towards a conclusion you can hardly bear to discover.

I will put Magpie Murders on the shelf with my collection of Agatha Christie novels. I feel even more nostalgic for Hercule Poirot after having read it, and I suspect I will be meeting again with him soon. In a world gone crazy, I need my favorite lovable, logical, and predictable fictional characters even more than usual, and Poirot is standing first in line to cheer me up.

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