I have been off Twitter for 5 days and 2 hours because an actual medical doctor told my forty-something year old ass that I Will Die from a heart attack if I don’t stop steeping in a tea of my own rage and despair on a regular basis at the demise of the United States of America. She told me to get off of Twitter and to meditate every day as though that is something that people really do, and I laughed right out loud but turns out she was not just trying to be funny, girl was serious. So I have been 5 days sober from tweets and facebookery and it sucks but I do have to admit I am spending less time whimpering in corners about Jared Kushner’s continued security clearance and the fact that no one will ever be able to afford Amoxicillin again. So I am basking in the semi-peaceful state that only the truly ignorant and uninformed can achieve.
Luckily I found myself entirely engrossed in a new book, The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz, which has helped me keep calm and carry on. To say that I loved this book was an understatement. To say that I went up to a stranger in a bookstore yesterday who I saw pick it up and put it back and told her that she HAD TO BUY IT is accurate. I might have followed her around discreetly until she left to be sure she didn’t just stuff it in another display case while I wasn’t looking because she looked a little shifty. There are some mild spoilers below but there is no way to talk about this book without them and most are on the inside cover anyway so cool down, captain.
First you should know that this is a ‘book within a book’ situation. Fortunately I am one of those idiots who can entirely forget the first chapter once there is a twist, so I got halfway through without remembering that the book I am reading is being read by a character in the book at the same time and then I was like oh yeah! So it can get a little Meta but stick with it. The Magpie Murders starts with an editor, Susan Ryeland, who has just received the manuscript of the newest mystery in the detective Atticus Pund series written by her most lucrative author, Alan Conway. Got that? The new novel is similar in tone to his other books, by which I mean he is solving outlandish murders in tiny British towns using only his little grey cells and an obtuse assistant whose only function is to say dumb things that trigger smart ideas in the detective’s head. The reading of the new novel takes up more than half the book (again, I forgot I was reading a manuscript within a book because my brain cannot handle that) and I completely loved the manuscript story. It is so deliciously vintage Agatha Christie that it just made me want to stay in bed and read and drink tea all day. Just before the murderer is exposed, though, we are yanked back into the other story and we find that 1) The Ending of the Manuscript is Missing and 2) Alan Conway is dead.
DUN DUN DUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
How awesome is that? The rest of the book has our intrepid editor Susan trying to solve the real life crime but also trying to solve the manuscript crime because they are related somehow maybe? This book was so much fun, I could barely stand it. All I really wanted it to do was keep me off the world wide web, but it genuinely did so much more than that. I haven’t read anything this clever in a very long time and Susan is a great character – almost as great as Atticus. This is meant (I think) to be a sort-of homage to the golden age of mystery books and it also employs a bunch of clues and puzzles (anagrams galore, nerds!) that I loved. I have decided, with absolutely zero information or inside scoop, that this should be a series of books because I want more. Have at it, Anthony Horowitz!
The Magpie Murders – Grade A