In a sleepy English village in the 1950s, a housekeeper dies. But was her death an accident? Or murder? Atticus Pund, a holocaust survivor and famous private detective, has nothing to go on and his own problems to deal with: a terminal illness is threatening to take him before he can finish writing his book. But then housekeeper's employer, Sir Magnus Pie, is beheaded in his own mansion. Can Atticus solve one last murder before his own clock runs out?
Meanwhile, in present day London, editor Susan Ryland receives the first draft of Alan Conway's latest Atticus Pund novel, she has no idea that her life is about to be flipped up-side-down. Not only is Alan about to kill off the most popular character in her publishing house's library, but the last chapter is missing - and Alan Conway is dead. Now she has to find the last chapter... and possibly solve a real live murder on her own.
Anthony Horowitz's novels are always a delight, especially for fans of classic detective fiction, and Magpie Murders is no exception here. In fact, readers get two well-plotted, lovingly written murder mysteries for the price of one. Reading this made me sorry that Atticus Pund didn't actually have his own murder series (Horowitz, consider!), but Susan Ryland makes an excellent lead. She's feisty, relatable, and loveable, an amateur who has little but her own instincts and a vast knowledge of literary detectives. Horowitz also has fun poking at detective novel tropes and authorial snobbishness - all in his typical loving manner.
There is a mini-series (also excellent, also written by Horowitz) - it is sufficiently different from the novel so that one may enjoy both. The prose here is excellent, the shout-outs to golden-aged detectives is so much fun, and Ryland is an excellent lead. For fans of Agatha Christie, Allingham, Conan Doyle, and Foyle's War, it doesn't get much more fun than this.