Susan Ryeland is a London book editor who has just received the latest manuscript from one of her most irascible authors, Alan Conway. Much as she dislikes him, he’s the best seller at her publishing house, so there’s no question that she will give the book her full attention. But the manuscript’s ending appears to be missing, and just after she finishes reading it, she learns that Conway has committed suicide. As Ryeland learns more about his death, she starts to question whether a murder has occurred and begins to investigate, using clues from Conway’s book. And Conway continues to be the bane of her existence, even from beyond the grave.
Magpie Murders is a delightful, clever mystery-within-a-mystery. Just when you think you’re knee-deep in a 1955 British village whodunit, suddenly you’re thrown into a modern crime story with remarkable similarities to the first one. Multiple suspects presents themselves; references to Agatha Christie abound. Horowitz shows real mastery of his craft and knowledge of the genre. It’s no surprise, really, given that he’s authored numerous BBC mystery shows, including Midsomer Murders and Agatha Christie’s Poirot. This is a terrific modern take on the traditional mystery with ingenious puzzles to solve.