Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz

A labyrinth of clues. A mystery novel hiding a deadly secret. A killer with a fiendish plot: a brilliantly intricate and original thriller from the bestselling author of Magpie Murders

Random House Cornerstone| 20 August 2020| 400 pages| Review copy| 5*

Moonflower Murders is a follow up novel to Magpie Murders. It has the same format – that of a book within the book. Although I don’t think you have to read Magpie Murders first as this stands well on its own merits, I think it would help to know the background and some of the characters if you do.

Susan Ryeland, the main character, has retired as a publisher and is running a small hotel on a Greek island with her long-term boyfriend, Andreas. Their hotel is in debt, they’re in danger of going bankrupt and she is missing her literary life in London. So, when Lawrence and Pauline Trehearn, the owners of an hotel, Branlow Hall in Suffolk visit her and ask if she would investigate the disappearance of their daughter Cecily from their hotel for a fee, she decides to go – and at the same time visit London.

Before she had disappeared Cecily had read Alan Conway’s murder mystery, Atticus Pund Takes the Case, based on a murder that happened at Brownlow Hall eight years earlier. At that time, the evidence against Stefan, the general maintenance man was overwhelming and he was convicted. Cecily was convinced that there was something in the novel that proved Stefan wasn’t responsible for the crime. Unfortunately she hadn’t told anyone what had convinced her. The Trehearnes had read the book, but they couldn’t see any connection, although there are similarities – the characters are clearly based on the people at Brownlow Hall, with the same or similar names.

Susan had published Conway’s books, but thought that if he had indeed discovered that an innocent man was in prison he would have gone straight to the police and not turned it into a novel. But investigating Cecily’s disappearance, she re-reads his book and examines the evidence relating to the murder of eight years ago.

Moonflower Murders combines elements of vintage-style golden age crime novels with word-play, cryptic clues and anagrams. I thoroughly enjoyed trying to work it all out. it – Anthony Horowitz’s style of writing suits me – so easy to read, I whizzed through it, no doubt missing all the intricacies and clues along the way. But it is such an enjoyable way to read – no need to puzzle about the structure, or who is who as the characters all come across as individual people. Of course it’s not a straightforward mystery and along the way I was easily distracted by the red herrings. I thoroughly enjoyed trying to work it all out.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publishers Cornerstone for an ARC.

10 thoughts on “Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz

  1. Horowitz does have a skilled way of telling a story within a story, Margaret. I like the wit in his work, too, and I like Susan’s character. Not perfect, of course, but appealing. And this one sounds quite clever, too, with a nice, complex mystery. Little wonder you enjoyed it, and I’m glad you did.

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  2. I liked Magpie Murders a lot, so I should like this one. I look forward to when it comes out over here in the US.

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  3. I only read Magpie Murders recently and didn’t know there would be a second book. It sounds a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to reading this second one 😊

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  4. I’m so excited about this book! Glad you shared your thoughts with us. I think I read that Magpie Murders is being adapted for TV? Maybe in your part of the world first and then coming to mine. Anyway, I think I ought to reread the Magpie Murders in preparation for this one. Lovely!

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  5. I’ve just finished this book and enjoyed it as much as Magpie Murders. I find Anthony Horowitz’s writing style very readable too and I love all the little puzzles and clues he puts into both the framing stories and the Atticus Pund stories.

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