Magpie Murders

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

477 pages

Genre: Mystery, fiction

Harper, 2017

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Re-readability: As with many mysteries, it’s tough to read through it again because the suspense is broken.


Reviewed by Indiana

In Magpie Murders, Anthony Horowitz transforms the reader into the detective when an Agatha Christie-esque mystery comes to life. The narrator, Susan Reyland, is the editor for a famous mystery writer. One weekend, she takes the author’s latest manuscript home to give it a read. But the book cuts off before the mystery is solved. Susan is left to find the ending of the story and of the author.

The first chapter immediately caught my attention. It pulls the reader into a book-lovers scene: Susan comes home after a long week of work and sits back with a few snacks at hand to read through a manuscript.

Then comes the mystery found in the manuscript. Unfortunately, I found myself yearning for the manuscript to end. Doubly unfortunate, the manuscript was half the book. It’s a tight mystery and it’s written in the style of Agatha Christie, but it seemed drawn out. There were scenes that only served to characterize some of the people in the mystery, not to drive the plot forward.

Overall, the manuscript-mystery was weaker than Horowitz’s meta mystery. Later on in the book, one character gripes about how crappy he thinks the mystery writer is, how his writing is terrible and his plots unoriginal. I couldn’t tell if it was Horowitz’s way of recognizing that his meta-mystery was more powerful than the manuscript mystery, but I had a laugh at that.

Maybe it was because I expected more of the “meta” mystery than a classical mystery, but I was a bit disappointed when I’d read over 200 pages and Susan’s story had only occupied four of them.

Susan is one of the most realistic characters I’ve read (interesting as she’s brought to life by a male author). She doesn’t set out to solve the mystery of how the author died, she just wants to do her job and find the rest of the manuscript. But as she becomes invested and interested in the author’s odd ending, she slips into this pseudo-detective character that drives the more interesting plot of the book forward.

Anthony Horowitz also added in a few interesting personal dilemmas into Susan’s story. Her boyfriend is asking her to step out of the publishing world and out of London and into this tiny coastal town in Greece. Her boss is asking her to take over the publishing company. She must decide between her career and her love life. But all she wants to do is solve this mystery. It’s a funny and viable dilemma that most people can relate to.

I originally picked this book up because a fellow avid reader (and buyer at a local bookstore) recommended it. I’m glad I read it, as I’d never tired Anthony Horowitz before. However, I think I didn’t approach it with the right mindset. I would caution fellow readers to crack the spine with the mindset that Magpie Murders is a classical mystery first and foremost and a book-lover’s book second.

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