Magpie Murders: Magpie Murders, Book 1 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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When editor Susan Ryeland is given the tattered manuscript of Alan Conway's latest novel, she has little idea it will change her life. She's worked with the revered crime writer for years, and his detective, Atticus Pund, is renowned for solving crimes in the sleepy English villages of the 1950s.
As Susan knows only too well, vintage crime sells handsomely. It's just a shame that it means dealing with an author like Alan Conway....
But Conway's latest tale of murder at Pye Hall is not quite what it seems. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but hidden in the pages of the manuscript there lies another story: a tale written between the very words on the page, telling of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition and murder.
From Sunday Times best seller Anthony Horowitz comes Magpie Murders, his deliciously dark take on the vintage crime novel, brought bang up to date with a fiendish modern twist.
Read by Samantha Bond and Allan Corduner.
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|Listening Length||15 hours and 48 minutes|
|Narrator||Allan Corduner, Samantha Bond|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||06 October 2016|
|Publisher||Orion Publishing Group Limited|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 4,443 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
22 in Historical Thrillers (Audible Books & Originals)
24 in Amateur Sleuth Mysteries (Audible Books & Originals)
29 in Traditional Detective Mysteries (Audible Books & Originals)
Review this product
Reviewed in Australia on 8 February 2022
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Top reviews from Australia
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Two weird errors
I read the Atticus Pund novel with care as I assumed it would contain clues I needed for the main mystery. There were two mistakes in it which I thought were significant - they weren't, so don't worry about spoilers. Were they real errors, or subtle signs that the manuscript needing editing?
1) Joy never said her scooter was pink, but Pund mentions the colour shortly after
2) Pund says that someone can't spell 'building' in a note, but it was correct in the note
If they were there to show that Susan had to edit the novel, then I'd like to have had some confirmation.
The story begins with editor Susan Ryeland, receiving the text of a new novel, Magpie Murders, by one of her company's most successful authors, Alan Conway, a man whom personally she detests. Almost half the book engages the reader in Conway's text, which abruptly ends without the murder of Sir Magnus Pye being solved. To her chagrin, Ryeland discovers the last three chapters are missing. At this point, the second story emerges with Ryeland's hunt for the three missing chapters just as the news breaks that Alan Conway is dead. The question is: did he die before the book was finished? Was it suicide? Or was he murdered? Ryeland assumes the mantel of lead detective in order to solve the case and discovers that Conroy hated the genre that had brought him fame and fortune, and in particular, like Agatha Christie, he hated his lead detective, whose mannerisms are distinctly very "Poirotesque".
After having waded through the lives of Ryeland and others associated with Conroy, I found the plot began to drag and I was quickly losing interest in either who had killed Sir Magnus Pye or his alter-ego, Alan Conway. I gave it three stars, partly because of the lame ending, although I acknowledge it may well have been intentional; a tongue in cheek reference by Horowitz to the genre and Midsomer Murders in particular but also as an indicator of own my level of enjoyment.
Top reviews from other countries
To tell you anything at all is probably giving away too much but I think it's fair to say that it's one mystery within another - the manuscript of a detective story that marks the final appearance of supersleuth Atticus Pund in a classic fifties plot is really just the beginning. The novel conceals another mystery completely.
The writing is perfect. Although this is the first anyone has heard of Atticus Pund, you don't have to be too far in before your mind is kidding itself that you've read all the (non existent) previous adventures of a detective as prolific as Miss Marple or Father Brown. He is a very sympathetic sleuth and - in one of many marvellous in-jokes and references to Agatha Christie, Midsomer Murders etc - lives in Charterhouse Square, which is where they film Poirot's 'Whitehaven Mansions' home in the TV series. As for his author and those who publish his novels...
No, I've said too much already. If you love this sort of thing, you'll be in Heaven from the moment you pick it up.
Entitled Magpie Murders and set in 1955 the novel that unfolds is essentially a pastiche of an idiosyncratic Poirot-like sleuth investigating the seemingly accidental death of devoted housekeeper, Mary Blakiston, in the Somerset village of Saxby-on-Avon and the violent murder of odious Sir Magnus Pye that swiftly follows and is surely no coincidence. As the whole atmosphere of the village takes a darker turn and suspicion abounds the renowned investigator comes to the aid of a dim witted Inspector Chubb as he delves into the secrets and web of deceit surrounding two deaths and a burglary at Pye Hall. Horowitz writing as Alan Conway delivers all the required characters, from the busybody housekeeper to the resentful sister of Magnus Pye, the unfaithful lady of the manor, the bitter son of Mary, the local doctor, vicar and newly resident ex-criminal. As the pages flick by a delightful take on Agatha Christie follows and engages the reader in a guessing game and truly engrossing tale. As the final reveal approaches and Susan draws breath she discovers that the last chapter of the manuscript is missing only to arrive back at her desk and hear that author Alan Conway has thrown himself to his death.
As Susan searches for the missing chapter and starts to think that Alan Conway was murdered she proves an engaging narrator and learns that the characters of his final novel have thinly veiled real-life counterparts in the authors own personal life. As Susan tries to get to the bottom of Alan’s supposed suicide when all the signs indicate that he was anything but maudlin she makes an objective commentator, having previously found Alan a difficult and rather arrogant man herself. As she starts to actively investigate she realises that before she can put in place and locate the final chapter of Magpie Murders she must work out just who would have wanted Alan Conway dead and why that was. In truth I enjoyed the mystery contained in the Atticus Pünd adventure more than the actual focus on the author’s demise, perhaps because it felt more coherent and avoided the repetitive discussion of Conway’s literary merits, his fruitless search for recognition as a writer and the slightly laboured focus on the tropes in crime fiction.
Horowitz does the lions share of his work with the gentle tale of cosy crime in Saxby-on-Avon, hooking the reader and thereby keeping them invested in the second half but in all honesty I cared less as to who actually killed Conway and more about the fiendish puzzler in Saxby-on-Avon! It is however hard to find fault with such a clever concept and how it nearly ties together and as always, Anthony Horowitz writes superbly and brings alive Conway’s personal life in a witty, highly readable style. Whilst not a thriller the nested tale and the ultimate two solutions make Magpie Murders a superior blend of crime fiction! Highly recommend, this is a story to lose yourself within!
Review written by Rachel Hall (@hallrachel)
That said, I actually really enjoyed the book within the book; the Atticus Pünd narrative is interesting and easy going. It made me wonder what I'm missing out on by never having read any of the Golden Age of Crime novels and moved The Murder of Roger Ackroyd rather further up my to-read list. I appreciated all the nods to the literary world in general and the crime writing world in particular, even if several of those likely went right over my head. I can see why Horowitz left the manuscript hanging for a good two thirds of the book, but it just didn't quite work for me. The shift into the modern day didn't grip me anywhere near as much, and also meant that I'd kind of lost interest in the initial mystery by the time you actually get the blanks filled in.
This is one of those books that I have to give points for being well written and it certainly uses a clever narrative structure, but I have to admit that I lost interest. I wasn't keen on being shifted out of one narrative and into a different one in the modern day and felt that the pace lagged a little too much for this to be excellent. I thought I recognised the author, and it turns out I was right; I read his Alex Rider books as a teenager. This is obviously a completely different writing style and a completely different genre and target audience. It's well done, but it was a little too slow and a little too choppy for my personal taste.
Mainly because the pace of Poirot type pastiche was bipping along nicely and I was fully engaged only for it to come to a sudden and frustrating halt and be replaced with a story that I was not engaged with, had only been touched upon in the first few pages and ultimately for me was a bit of a forced damp squib.
I won't buy the next book because I'm not a fan of split narratives, I didn't like Game of Thrones for the same reason, if you find it a frustrating experience to have a story arc cut and disappear right in the heart of action and lose resolution and outcome and be shifted lock stock into another story arc that is less interesting, then this is not for you.
If you like books that split narratives and suspend you in the heart of the story, then you will probably really enjoy the way this book is written. It is clever, but for me perhaps a bit too clever for it's own good and pace.