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Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Magpie Murders (2016)

by Anthony Horowitz

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 227 mentions

English (108)  German (1)  All languages (109)
Showing 1-5 of 108 (next | show all)
Overly complicated murder mystery - narrator's life and novel about some murders intersect - we read both - and then there is the plagiarism of the novel from another author (we also read some of that) - and the climax with attempted murder of the narrator and arson of the publisher's office is somewhat contrived. But I read through to the end - needed to know whodunnit! ( )
  siri51 | Feb 10, 2019 |
Starts out as formulaic but becomes exceptional and clever mystery or set of mysteries. Excellent cure for the dog days of winter. ( )
  charlie68 | Jan 24, 2019 |
A mystery inside a mystery, with lost pages to a manuscript of a recently deceased popular who-done-it series author. As his editor sets out to find the lost pages, the circumstances of her author's death become clues to understanding his own death. Was it murder? My first Anthony Horowitz and I really enjoyed it. I only wish the Atticus Punt series existed, because I think I would have enjoyed reading more of this Holocaust survivor- turned private investigator's exploits.

This was recommended to me by my 97 year old neighbor. ( )
  bookczuk | Dec 2, 2018 |
ummmm, I kind of LOVED this. Tiiiiny bit fizzled out at the end, but overall a perfect read! ( )
  inescapableabby | Nov 28, 2018 |

“As far as I'm concerned, you can't beat a good whodunnit: the twists & turns, the clues and the red herrings and then, finally, the satisfaction of having everything explained to you in a way that makes you kick yourself because you hadn't seen it from the start.”
― Anthony Horowitz, Magpie Murders

I'm no fan of whodunits. I've never read anything by Agatha Christie, P. D. James, Dorothy L. Sayers or Ellery Queen; not even Conan Doyle. Nor have I ever seen a film based on a whodunit. Detective stories and murder mysteries are simply not my taste.

However, I decided to listen to the audio book of Magpie Murders since the book is about much more than a murder mystery - this is a novel focusing on what it means for an author to be a writer of murder mysteries. More exactly, Magpie Murders explores a number of relationships and connections for mystery writers - to note just three: between author and audience, between author and the author's prime creation, the detective, between author and the author's overarching literary vision and self-identity as a writer.

Expanding to wider horizons, from murder mystery to philosophic and literary questions surrounding murder mysteries and their authors, Anthony Horowitz has propelled himself out into the postmodern metafictional universe of such as John Barth, Donald Barthelme and Robert Coover. Thus my interest.

A word about Anthony Horowitz. In interviews this vivacious and charming British author comes across as someone who would make a most enjoyable dinner companion, exactly the type of person a university would love to visit campus to give a talk to students on what it means to immerse oneself in literature and dedicate years to writing. He is also clear about his love for whodunits and writers such as Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle, Ian Fleming and Ellery Queen. And as Mr. Horowitz states directly – both as a person and a writer, he's exactly the opposite of complete bastard Alan Conway portrayed in Magpie Murders.

Turning to Alan Conway, we have a man who aspired to write literary fiction, to join the ranks of leading contemporary British authors such as Salman Rushdie, Martin Amis, David Mitchell and Will Self. But, alas, his serious efforts where tossed back in his face with rejection slips. Knowing Alan to be an exceptionally talented writer, his wife at the time suggested he write a popular detective novel. Alan did just that. Money and fame gushed in, enough money Alan could finally quit his dreaded teaching job and enough fame the publishing industry and the public clamored for more whodunits featuring Alan’s phenomenal Inspector Atticus Pünd, a detective right up there with the immortals, a detective to be mentioned in the same breath with Sherlock Holmes.

But money and fame came with a price: Alan Conway had to abandon his dreams of becoming a serious literary writer, another Salman Rushdie or Martin Amis. And the more whodunits he wrote, the more his readers and publisher demanded even more Atticus Pünd. Alan responds: Very well, if all you people want your silly whodunits featuring Inspector Atticus Pünd you will have them. All nine volumes. I’ll have my revenge at the end when I reveal to the world the buried code, an anagram constructed from the titles of those nine volumes I wrote for you, the hidden message: your dear Atticus Pünd, hero of heroes, mastermind of masterminds, is nothing more than a piffling poopstick (my term; Alan Conway's term is more offensive).

At this point we can ask: Why does Alan Conway judge Atticus Pünd a dunce? Pünd is an exceptional detective and wants to continue his detective work right up to the time of his death. What’s wrong with that? First, let us turn to the following quote from the nineteenth century German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer: “The wise man will, above all, strive after freedom from pain and annoyance, quiet and leisure, consequently a tranquil, modest life, with as few encounters as may be; and so, after a little experience of his so-called fellowmen, he will elect to live in retirement, or even, if he is a man of great intellect, in solitude. For the more a man has in himself, the less he will want from other people,--the less, indeed, other people can be to him.”

Perhaps it is Alan Conway’s observation that Atticus Pünd, a man aware of his impending death in a matter of weeks, is incapable of solitude and deep contemplation and thus clings to his need to play his role as detective to crack the case. And maybe Conway is extending such a immature clinging to an entire population incapable of moving on from their superficial reading of whodunits.

Another equally valid reason harkens back to Alan Conway’s childhood. As we learn from his sister who grew up with him, her brother was a victim of child abuse – abused both physically and emotionally as a youngster, much of the abuse coming in the form of repeated canings at a boarding school. Beating children was both socially acceptable and legal at the time (such punishment in England was not outlawed until 1999). To compound the problem, Alan’s abuse was at the hands of the headmaster who also happened to be his father. Now that’s an explosive combination that can’t be discounted or downplayed.

Having had such an abusive childhood and then being compelled to write about a detective rounding up clues in quaint English villages, it isn’t hard to imagine Alan Conway seething with rage at his writing desk as he pumped out whodunits, all the while his heart and creative spirit craving to write Will Self-like biting cynicism and caustic social commentary. We can picture the author fuming: “No, not this prison. I’m trapped by readers and the publishing industry – I can only write these trite detective mysteries. This is disgusting.”

Questions worthy of consideration as we read The Magpie Murders: What does it mean for an author’s identity to be inextricably entwined with whodunits and their detective? How bound is an author of murder mysteries by the public – their publisher, the media, their readers? How does their success impact their vision and personal integrity as literary artist and creator? Thank you, Anthony Horowitz, for stepping out to the metafictional land of Robert Coover and John Barth to ask such questions.

Short lively video of author Anthony Horowitz talking about Magpie Murders:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgFyjNMf_QE ( )
  Glenn_Russell | Nov 13, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anthony Horowitzprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bond, SamanthaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Corduner, AllanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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But I’m not sure it actually matters what we read. Our lives continue along the straight lines that have been set out for us. Fiction merely allows us a glimpse of the alternative. Maybe that’s one of the reasons we enjoy it.
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Book description
From the New York Times bestselling author of Moriarty and Trigger Mortis, this fiendishly brilliant, riveting thriller weaves a classic whodunit worthy of Agatha Christie into a chilling, ingeniously original modern-day mystery.

When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.

Masterful, clever, and relentlessly suspenseful, Magpie Murders is a deviously dark take on vintage English crime fiction in which the reader becomes the detective. Amazon
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"From New York Times bestselling author Anthony Horowitz comes Magpie Murders, a brilliant and strikingly original reimagining of the classic whodunit (a la Agatha Christie) with a contemporary mystery wrapped around it"--

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