Friday Book Whimsy: Moonflower Murders

With a title like Moonflower Murders, I would have picked up this book even if it hadn’t been authored by one of the cleverest modern mystery writers, Anthony Horowitz. And the icing on the cake is that it is the second in the so-called Magpie Murders Series. Magpie Murders was one of my favorite books of 2017, and I reviewed it here.

Horowitz’s second Magpie murder once again features his protagonist of sorts Atticus Pund. I say “of sorts” because Atticus Pund is the fictional detective in a series of murder mysteries written by Horowitz’s own fictional author Alan Conway. Are you confused yet?

Alan Conway was murdered in Magpie Murders, and that mystery was solved in part by Conway’s editor Susan Ryeland. When this book opens, Ryeland has quit the editing business and she, along with her love interest, is running a small hotel in Greece. She is second-guessing her choice when a Mr. and Mrs. Trehearne arrive at the hotel. They tell her that their daughter Cecily disappeared the same day as a murder took place at their hotel Farlingaye Hall located in Sussex, England. The hotel handyman was arrested for the murder. It seems Cecily had just finished reading a mystery novel by Alan Conway featuring detective Atticus Pund based on that hotel. Something she read in that novel made her believe the arrest was an error and she believed she knew the real murderer. Unfortunately, she went missing before she could tell what she knew. The Trehearnes ask Ryeland to come to England and, using her familiarity with Conway’s writing, try to solve the mystery.

Horowitz’s writing is exceptional, and his stories are always so unique and unpredictable. For example, included as part of Moonflower Murders is the entire Atticus Pund novel written by Alan Conway that Cecily read. Since we are able to read the same book as Cecily, it allows us to try and solve the murder as well.

I failed.

I always look forward to a new novel by Anthony Horowitz, and Moonflower Murders did not disappoint. I highly recommend it, especially if you are a fan of Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot.

Here is a link to the book.

Friday Book Whimsy: The Word is Murder

Author Anthony Horowitz has created and written some of my favorite mystery television programs — Foyle’s War being my most favorite of all. As a writer of fiction, he is known primarily for his young adult books, with Alex Rider being perhaps the most well-known. But I fell in love with him originally for a book I reviewed a while back called Magpie Murders, a cleverly-written mystery story within a mystery story. Intrigued by that book, I quickly read a couple of Sherlock Holmes stories that he had written. Many have attempted to duplicate Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but most haven’t succeeded. Horowitz did.

I was very excited, therefore, to see that he had a new novel being released. The premise of The Word is Murder was again so, so clever. And the result, I’m happy to say, met my expectations.

In The Word is Murder, Horowitz literally writes himself into the book as one of the characters. A disgraced police detective, let go from the London police force, is hired as a consultant for the case of a mysterious murder of the mother of a famous actor. In Sherlock Holmes/Dr. Watson style, the detective — known only as Hawthorne — hires Horowitz to work with him on a case, and chronicle it by writing a diary.

The actor’s mother visits a funeral home one day, making arrangements for her own funeral. This isn’t particularly unusual. However, what IS unusual is that she is murdered that very afternoon. Hawthorne and Horowitz work together to solve the mystery.

The character of Hawthorne is modeled directly after Sherlock Holmes. He is brilliant and cocky and brash. Horowitz writes himself as a likable Watson.

The ending was a surprise, and quite gratifying.

I will warn you that, while I absolutely LOVED this book — finding it so incredibly clever — I can see where a reader might be turned off by the way Horowitz portrays himself. There is lots of name-dropping, lunches with Stephen Spielberg, and so forth. It didn’t deter me. I recommend this book with great gusto!

Here is a link to the book.