Sunday, November 29, 2020

Moonflower Murders: Anthony Horowitz

Moonflower Murders is the sequel to an earlier book by Anthony Horowitz, Magpie Murders. In both books the main character is Susan Ryeland, and both feature the "book within a book" format. I did not review Magpie Murders and looking back, I can understand why. It was one of those books that is very difficult to review without revealing too much. 

As Moonflower Murders begins, retired publisher Susan Ryeland is living with her boyfriend Andreas, running a small hotel that they own on the Greek island of Crete. She thought this would be an idyllic existence, but she is exhausted with the responsibilities and is having doubts about her relationship with Andreas. 

Then Lawrence and Pauline Treherne visit their hotel, and tell Susan about a murder that happened eight years earlier in their hotel in Sussex.  One of her authors, Alan Conway, visited the Treherne's hotel after the murder and used characters from the actual murder in his next book. Now, their daughter Cecily is missing, and this happened immediately after she read Conway's book and told them that she had discovered who was really responsible for the murder. They approach Susan because she edited the book and was responsible for it being published. 

The Trehernes ask Susan to return to the UK, read the book, and see if she can figure out what has happened to Cecily and what clue she found related to the murder. This seems a bit extreme but they offer to pay her $10,000, which Susan could use to keep her small hotel afloat. 

That summary of the premise for the book sounds complicated – and leaves a lot out – but it does make more sense when you read the book. 

I liked everything about this book. I will confess to getting impatient with some parts of the story, and wondering why Susan takes so long to get to reading the book by Alan Conway (although she is of course already familiar with the story). But I was very happy about how Susan's story comes together in the end. And in Susan Ryeland, the author created a character that I cared about.

The book by Conway is placed almost at the middle of the book and is a complete mystery, complete with cover, copyright page, title page, and dedication page. It is a historical mystery, set in the 1950s, featuring a famous private detective somewhat like Hercule Poirot. 

The "outer" story (set in the present) is a very good puzzle mystery and when it was solved, I felt like the clues and the plot supported the resolution. Sometimes in a puzzle mystery I end up feeling like the author has just thrown in a resolution almost out of the blue. I enjoyed the inner book, set in the 1950s, but I did not feel like it was as challenging as the main story. Together they worked very well, though, at least for me.

Although both Magpie Murders and Moonflower Murders share a main character and have a similar format, Horowitz labels them as standalone books on his website. I agree that this book can stand alone, but it does reveal some parts of Magpie Murders, if the reader wants to go back to read that one.


I first knew of Anthony Horowitz as one of the creators of the Midsomer Murders TV show and then later, Foyle's War. However he has done many other things. He is the author of a young adult spy fiction series which has recently been adapted as a television series. And he has written two Sherlock Holmes novels, a James Bond novel, and two other adult mysteries.

I am including this book in my submissions for the European Reading Challenge for Greece, since the book begins and ends in Greece, and that setting is lovingly described.



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Publisher:  Harper, 2020
Length:      580 pages
Format:      Hardcover
Setting:      UK, Greece
Genre:       Mystery
Source:      I purchased this book.


16 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Love Foyle's War especially. Am tempted to try it.

TracyK said...

I agree, Patti, Foyle's War was especially good. Initially I rejected the Midsomer Murders tv show because they went so far beyond the original series, but eventually I got over that and enjoyed it as a separate thing. We have seen all of the episodes of Midsomer Murders and Foyle's War.

Rick Robinson said...

I liked Magpie a lot, I'll try this if the damn library ever opens back up, and the hold line gets shorter.

Margot Kinberg said...

I'm very glad you enjoyed this as much as you did, Tracy. I liked The Magpie Murders, and I've been planning on reading this one as well. It's good to hear I have a good read ahead of me.

TracyK said...

Rick, Since you liked Magpie, I know you will like this one. I liked this one even better, myself. I do hope your library opens up soon, getting it through the library is a good way to go.

TracyK said...

Margot, I think you will like Moonflower Murders. It is long but I just reminded myself I was getting two mysteries in one.

Cath said...

Horowitz is just an amazing author. I thought his Foyle's War writing was fantastic, aided of course by the wonderful acting of Michael Kitchen. I liked The Magpie Murders but didn't completely love it. I suspect though that I'll grab this new one quite readily when I see it in the library.

TracyK said...

Cath, I liked this one better than Magpie Murders (at least based on my gooodreads ratings, which are quite subjective and of the moment), but it did take me a while to get into it, which is hard with a 500 page book. But I loved the way it came together in the end.

And Foyle's War is one of our favorite series, which we will watch again, someday.

CLM said...

I liked Magpie Murders although felt it dragged in places. Maybe I was annoyed that I missed the clues! I am sure I will read and enjoy this in due course. I wondered if Susan would have a HEA. It will make a good Masterpiece Theatre!

I don't know how I missed Foyle when it first aired. I watched the first season on DVD a couple years ago and should look for more now that I have Netflix.

TracyK said...

Constance, I had forgotten that there is going to be an adaptation of Magpie Murders. I hope it is good.

For the most part I felt like Foyle's got better and better. I think there may have been one season that I was less happy with, but overall it was a very, very good series.

Susan said...

I've heard good things about Horowtiz's books, but I've yet to try them for myself. I need to get on that!

TracyK said...

Susan, I think that they are worth trying. I have two more of his mysteries to read.

Clothes In Books said...

Hmm. I just looked up Horowitz and found that I did NOT enjoy Magpie Murders, but I liked much more another book by him called The Word is Murder: I had completely forgotten about that one, and would have said I had only read Magpie Murders! The setup for this one sounds a lot more appealing...

TracyK said...

Moira, looking back at Magpie Murders, I would have thought I would have liked that one better, but this one really worked better for me. The two books were more separate (sort of). I have The Word is Murder and do want to get to reading it. And I still haven't read Trigger Mortis, the James Bond book he wrote.

col2910 said...

I enjoyed The Magpie Murders and liked the book withing a book set-up. Not sure if I want to go back there again though. A maybe...

TracyK said...

I had forgotten that you read Magpie Murders, Col. I liked this one better but it also is very long. At least you get two books for one. I recently read The Word is Murder by Horowitz and liked it better than this series.