Top critical review
Reviewed in Australia on 8 December 2017
In this work, Horowitz has produced a spoof on the classic "whodunit." It's full of allusions to Agatha Christie and numerous others that have followed in her footsteps, including the TV series, Midsomer Murders. Undoubtedly, it's a clever piece of work but initially it can be confusing, if the reader is unaware that it is a story within a story; a plot within a plot.
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.