It started as a simple editing assignment for Susan Ryeland, Head of Fiction at Cloverleaf Books. She took Magpie Murders home for the weekend. The ninth Atticus Pünd mystery takes the half Greek, half German detective to Saxby-on-Avon in 1955. The author Alan Conway wrote a tribute to Agatha Christie, a village mystery reminiscent of the stories featuring Hercule Poirot. But Susan Ryeland reads a manuscript that changes her life forever.
The manuscript of Magpie Murders is the story of several deaths. Did Mary Blakiston, the housekeeper at Pye Hall actually fall down the stairs and die? Doubt and whispers swept through the small village. It is only when rumors hint that Mary’s son Robert killed his mother that Joy Sanderling takes action. When she consults Atticus Pünd, he refuses to investigate. But, when Sir Magnus Pye is murdered, Pünd and his assistant head to the village. Just when Pünd is about to reveal the killer, the manuscript ends. Susan Ryeland returns to work, hunting for the missing final chapters, only to learn the author, Alan Conway, is dead. Now, the mystery reader and editor turns detective herself, hunting for the manuscript’s concluding chapters. She’s sure those chapters will not only end the book, but will reveal whether Alan Conway himself was murdered.
The mystery within a mystery is a gift to readers who enjoy British village mysteries. As Detective Inspector Chubb realizes, “Murder changed everything. It broke the gentle rhythm of life. It turned neighbor against neighbor. Suddenly nobody was to be trusted and doors, which were usually left open at night, were locked.” Horowitz captures the voice of the traditional British mystery perfectly, and then twists it, giving editor Susan Ryeland a starring role in an investigation of the manuscript, its theft, and the author’s death. Perfect.