Magpie Murders – Anthony Horowitz

“Story in a story” how cool is that, almost like buy a book and you get another one within it for free. It’s an absolutely ingenious writing style.

When I started reading the book, the first lines that caught my attention were ” 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.” – these lines made me pause. I didn’t entirely agree with the statement that it doesn’t matter what we read – i found myself immediately shaking my head in contradiction. However, i found myself vehemently agreeing to the next few lines – i do find myself living alternate lives vicariously via the characters i read about and the ones that i like. I do find myself thinking sometimes what i would do in a particular situation that i come across in a book.

Anyway, we start the plot with an editor, who is just gathering up her wine and snacks to get cosy and read a book – the 9th book in the series by this author she does not personally like as a person but adores as an author. We find ourselves submerged in the world of Atticus Pund. A renowned detective, credited with multiple solved cases, fighting a fatal disease and yet determined to solve this one last case before he embraces death. The book that we read with our editor is a Sherlock Holmes alike and engaging, though predictable.

Engrossed in the story, the anticlimax arrives when the editor finds the last few pages missing, just before the mystery is about to be unveiled (how perfectly annoying)! The real plot (not sure which one is real by this time), starts with the quest to find the missing pages, only for our reader to realise the author died and the missing pages have truly gone missing. Frustrating!

Our reader turns herself into an amateur detective, using some of the techniques she learnt at the hands of well renowned fictional mystery writers and put them to practice. Her strong sixth sense serves her well and she is proven correct in thinking that the author was murdered and did not commit suicide. The book is creative and involves not just one but two mysteries to solve and its a while before the reader reads the missing pages and finds out the first “whodunnit”

“Emotions which are quickly lost in the noise and chaos of the city fester around the village square, driving people to psychosis and violence. It’s a gift of the whodunnit writer”

Both mysteries are interesting in their own way, set in different time and different circumstances. It’s hard to forget that they are fictional mysteries – good thing is my nails are still intact by the end of the book. Language is average, characters are normal and setting is predictable and murderers are entirely idiotic.

Below lines did resonate with me as a reader,

“You must know that feeling when it’s raining outside and heating’s on and you lose yourself, utterly, in a book. You read and you read and you feel the pages slipping through your fingers until suddenly there are fewer in your right hand than there are in your left and you want to slow down but you still hurtle on towards a conclusion you can hardly bear to discover. That is the particular power of the whodunnit which has, I think, a special place within the general panoply of literary fiction because, of all characters, the detective enjoys a particular, indeed a unique relationship with the reader.”

I felt the authors interpretation of how avid readers feel towards the books was the best part.

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