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Sunday 27 February 2022

Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz


Six hundred and eight pages for a murder mystery. That's two (average) books, which is exactly what this is: A book within a book. I've never read anything like it. I haven't quite decided whether it appeals. I don't read two books at a time: it gets messy, I can't remember who's who in what. In this, each 'book' has quite a number of characters, and by the time I'd reached the end of the inner book, I'd almost forgotten who was in the shell story. Different, original, but I'm on the fence.

It's a complex murder mystery. Cecily MacNeil is missing and her parents believe her disappearance is connected to a murder that took place in the hotel they own some years previously. They believe that after reading a book, a detective novel loosely based on that event, Cecily realised that the wrong man has been imprisoned for the crime. As the author is deceased, her parents invite Susan Ryeland, the editor and publisher of the book, to investigate. As she can't remember the book, she reads it again. And so must we, the readers: and that's the second book.

Part of the thrill of a murder mystery is guessing whodunnit, and you either revel in getting it right or even getting it wrong because of a clever twist or two. Although brilliantly written…Horowitz is an amazing writer…it's all a tad too convoluted and complex and took all the pleasure out of making and inclination to hazard a guess.

Despite this being a bit too long (I did have a few 'oh, do get on with it' moments) and poor editing (why did Lisa become Linda and why don't editors know the difference between lay and lie?), Horowitz's authorial skill really is something to admire.

I discovered shortly after starting this that it's a sequel to Magpie Murders, a previous Susan Ryeland adventure. Moonflower Murders is more or less standalone, but the references to Magpie Murders were rather tantalising. A bit back to front, but I'm sorely tempted to read it!

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