Cover Image: Moonflower Murders

Moonflower Murders

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Member Reviews

Moonflower Murders impressed me far more than the predecessor, The Magpie Murders, did and part of this is going to be down to the formatting. Whereas in the first novel, you only got a single chapter of the current day before being thrown into the novel within a novel, here you get several hundred pages of the current day mystery first. This allowed me to become invested in the main mystery, so when I got into the secondary novel it didn't completely steal the show. 

I admit, I still probably enjoyed the Atticus Pund novel more than the modern day mystery that it is supposed to hold hints to, but I was still drawn into the modern day mystery as well. My enjoyment of the Atticus Pund aspects of the novel have however drawn me to finally get around to reading the classic Christie works on which it is based though, which is an added bonus. I liked the differences in the two writing styles and found them far more noticeable here as you get more of an even spread between the two narratives. 

The parallels between the two situations are well drawn, even as the Pund mystery seems to have little in common with the violent murder eight years ago at first glance. I enjoyed the twists and turns and whilst I saw several of the revelations coming, others managed to surprise me and the final chapters with Susan Ryeland trying to tease all the hints and clues out of the manuscript after events have resolved were particularly well done. All in all a clever format that is well executed here; I found myself invested in both narratives and certainly enjoyed the ride.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for my free review copy of this title.
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Thank you to Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Another brilliant read from this fabulous author. Recommended.
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Horowitz is by far one of my favourite crime writers at present. Like Magpie Murders, the sequel gives you two books for the price of one! Creativity is in abundance here, and, as an editor myself, it’s great to see Susan Ryeland back in the midst of crime-solving one more, as the legacy of her bestselling author continues to cast a shadow. It’s creative, suspenseful and fun. Highly recommend.
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This is a brilliant read.
Wonderful well written plot and story line that had me engaged from the start.
Love the well fleshed out characters and found them believable.
Great suspense and found myself second guessing every thought I had continuously.
Can't wait to read what the author brings out next.
Recommend reading.

I was provided an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher.  This is my own honest voluntary review.
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Reminiscent of a Father Brown and Death in Paradise story

This is the sequel to Magpie Murders, and it is probably worth reading them in the right order. Susan Ryeland, the main protagonist in both, is an editor turned sleuth, who now lives in Greece with her partner Andreus. She previously solved the deaths in Magpie Murders and is now called upon by the owners of an exclusive hotel to find their daughter who has gone missing.

The writing style is that of Agatha Christie; so much so that I felt that it must be a parody at several points. However, it didn't feel quite right, and the atmosphere engendered felt strange rather than convincing. 

A book's format within a book was used in the previous novel but was confusing and at points, boring. The same story repeatedly told with the change of names, and slight alterations to the plot lengthened the book unnecessarily, and at times it became a chore to pick it up again.

Several characters' actions did not gel, and I couldn't see any senior police officer fawning over an amateur detective as occurred in the book within the book. 

I conclusion, Moonflowers Murders was unconvincing with a strange style. It was a huge disappointment as much more was expected from this author. Less might well have meant more in this case.

mr zorg

Elite Reviewing group received a copy of the book to review.
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Anthony Horowitz does it again with another clever, witty and engrossing tale with a juicy twist.  If you like a good thriller or classic crime then this is for you.
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As a huge Agatha Christie fan, this was like an elite level of the murder mystery genre! I thoroughly enjoyed the whole idea of this book - a book within a book. If you read this book spend time looking at the clues in the book within. When they are pointed out at the end it was such a revelation; it was real smoke and mirrors. Can’t wait to read another.
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I enjoyed this, but it took me a little while to get into it. I wanted to read it because I had read and enjoyed The Magpie Murders, but if I remember rightly, I also struggled to get into that earlier book. These books are very clever and self-referential, and it is great fun trying to find the clues and interesting at the end to see how many you spotted. Very Agatha Christie in tone and ultimately very enjoyable. Anthony Horowitz is a very good author, and his books do not let you down.
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An unusual book that has two mysteries within, written in the style of a book within a book. It results in a wonderfully complex plot complete with plenty of twists and turns. 
An absolute delight to read.
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A very clever story of a book written within a book with two mysteries going on at the same time. Anthony Horowitz certainly keeps the brain active. Lots of twists and turns and a difficult puzzle to solve. Very entertaining.
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A twisting and intriguing plot with interesting and varied characters this is a great read which I think both teens and adults would enjoy.
If you like a puzzle with clues thrown in throughout, a twisting and turning plot eloquently executed you will enjoy this.
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Moonflower Murders is a marvelous, intriguing, page-turning, fun puzzle that’s complex yet very readable.

The publisher’s blurb and cover reviews don’t really do this book justice. Yes, they say how good it is, but they leave you with the feeling that it might be a bit longer and more complicated than you’re looking for (“fiendishly complex”, “sophisticated”, “literary”). The first pages don’t help because they don’t exactly suck you in from page one.

Don’t let any of that put you off! It’s a great read, and while it is indeed very clever, well written and yes, literary in a sense, the pages just fly by.

It’s twisty, but not that hard to get your head around.

Two for the price of one
Moonflower Murders features a book within a book. It’s the ‘mise en abyme’ literary device of a story within a story, with the ‘internal’ story revealing themes and character motivations that throw light on the ‘external’ story. Not only do you get two whole novels for your money, the two enrich each other. (I’m tempted to bring out that cringeworthy cliché ‘one plus one equals three’, but I won’t. Promise.)

In the ‘real’ story, a young woman, Cecily, is missing and her family suspect it’s connected to a murder 8 years before. That murder was the inspiration for a crime novel by Alan Conway (called Atticus Pünd Takes the Case). Apparently Conway, now dead, knew who the true murderer was (someone else was convicted). On reading Atticus, Cecily figured it out, but she disappeared before she could tell anyone. Our protagonist, Susan Ryeland, who had edited Atticus, is called in to try to reexamine it to find clues to Cecily’s disappearance. The entire Atticus novel is included within Moonflower Murders.

Classic crime with a contemporary zest
Nobody loves a classic, Golden Age English crime novel, à la Agatha Christie, more than I do. Both Moonflower Murders and the Atticus are homages to the form. What’s fun is that the latter is a very classic homage (and flawlessly done), while Moonflower Murders is a homage with a contemporary savor.

If you know and love early British crime literature, you’ll enjoy how Horowitz uses the classic tropes and literary devices, reproducing them in Atticus and bringing them up to date in Moonflower Murders. There’s a great range of characters, from wholesome and likeable to nasty and despicable.

I had already read Magpie Murders, the first book in this series, which also featured a book within a book. I’ve the memory of a goldfish though, so struggled to recall it. While it would have helped if my memory of it had been a bit fresher, it wasn’t really a problem. This book can be read as a standalone. That said, Magpie Murders is a wonderful read too (I remember that much), so if you haven’t read it, start there!

My thanks to the publisher, the author and Netgalley for giving me a free copy of this book. All my reviews are 100% honest and unbiased, regardless of how I acquire the book.
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I have always looked forward to a new Anthony Horowitz book with great anticipation.  Once again he manages to produce a complex plot with incredible twists and turns.  He never disappoints. The presentation of two murder investigations within the story, one inside another story, one actual and one fictional, is a masterstroke.  The plot, characters, language, scene setting and structure all contribute to a great read.  Highly recommended.
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Anthony Horowitz is a masterful storyteller and his latest foray into crime fiction is no exception, presenting the reader with not one, but two, murder mysteries to solve.

Moonflower Murders is the sequel to the bestselling Magpie Murders and follows the same format of a 'mystery within a mystery'. Our protagonist, Susan Ryeland, is living with her partner, Andreas, in Crete where they both manage a hotel. Susan loves Andreas but is missing her old life as a book editor, where she worked on a famed series of mystery novels featuring German detective, Atticus Pund.

When Susan is contacted by a wealthy Suffolk couple, Laurence and Pauline Trehearne, about the disappearance of their daughter, Cecily, she's instantly intrigued. On the day of Cecily's wedding, a man was brutally murdered at the Trehearne's luxury hotel, Branlow Hall. Just before she disappeared, Cecily was convinced the identity of the murderer was hidden inside the book she'd just read -- Atticus Pund Takes the Case. With the author of the books, Alan Conway, now dead, the Trehearnes think Susan might be able to help. So Susan returns to England to investigate.

Once the cast of characters at Branlow Hall are firmly established -- including Cecily's doting husband and her prickly sister -- Susan finally sits down to read Atticus Pund Takes the Case. And so do we. A mystery about a strangled actress is 'reproduced' in its entirety in the middle of Moonflower Murders, complete with title page and reviews. We read the same words Susan does, trying to identify the secret messages Cecily found.

Just as in Magpie Murders, the Atticus Pund 'story-within-a-story' features cleverly named characters who have 'real-life' counterparts in Susan's storyline. With clues in the form of anagrams and other wordplay running through both narratives, the reader will be guessing and second-guessing until the very end.

Horowitz's Susan Ryeland series of books are love letters to crime-fiction greats such as Phillip Marlowe, Wilkie Collins, and Agatha Christie, with Atticus Pund being an obvious homage to Hercule Poirot (and with characters resembling Inspector Japp and Miss Lemon in the story, too). And like these Golden Age novels, both mysteries end in a traditional denouement: a truly satisfying moment for fans of the genre.

Anthony Horowitz infuses his novels with a great sense of humour, drawing attention to the metafictional nature of his works. Susan chides herself when she hears herself asking a potential witness: "Can you tell me what happened on the night of the murder?" telling herself if she'd seen those old-fashioned and cliched words in a novel, she would have edited them out. It's these little things that make Moonflower Murders a real hoot.

Simple storytelling, flowing prose and a craftily plotted murder mystery (or two), Moonflowers Murders provides a unique and fresh take on some of the crime fiction tropes we've come to know and love. You know you're in for a treat when you've got a novel by Anthony Horowitz in your hands.
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I received an ARC copy of this book from Cornerstone (Random House UK) through NetGalley that I freely chose to review. I thank them for this opportunity.
Yes, oh, yes, I’d heard of Anthony Horowitz (I love his biography!), and I’ve watched adaptations (and episodes, I’m sure) of his work on TV but had never read any of his novels. When I came across this one on NetGalley I thought the time had come. I love owls, and although the final cover doesn’t have an owl on it (if they don’t change it, the cover of the audio version does), the ARC copy did, and that was another good reason. (There is an owl in the book, yes. Well, sort of). And now I know why he is so popular. This is the second novel featuring Susan Ryeland and although I can’t compare them because I haven’t read the first one, Magpie Murders, I can confirm that this novel can be read as a standalone, although there are plenty of references to the first one. 
I didn’t know what to expect, not having read the first novel, and although the initial premise of how Susan gets involved in the investigation is a bit thin, once you accept it (and any of us who are interested in books, as readers, writers, editors, collectors… will be quite intrigued by the concept), you are in for a pretty amusing ride. There is a book within a book, and you get two mystery novels for the price of one. And both are pretty good. The book at the centre of Susan’s inquiry, Atticus Pünd Takes the Case, is a classic mystery set in the 1950s in the UK (in Dorset), written by one of Susan’s clients, Alan Conway, who was also, it seems, central to the previous novel. Although we start by getting to know the characters of the current case (the main story is set in contemporary times although it goes back a few years to a murder committed at the hotel that takes centre stage in the plot), at some point, Susan starts reading Alan’s novel, as it seems to contain a crucial clue to the disappearance of Cecily, the young woman who has gone missing. And we get the novel in full, so we are in the same position as Susan, or almost, as she was the editor of the story and knew the writer quite well (although perhaps not as well as she imagined). She knew of his delight in creating puzzles, including all kinds of anagrams and secret clues inside of his books, where “everything” might have a hidden meaning. In some ways, it is as if we were reading over her shoulder, in the same way as we follow her around during her investigation.
One of the main achievements of the book is that both mysteries are engaging and work well in their own right. Atticus Pünd Takes the Case is written in the third person, mostly from the investigator’s point of view but not exclusively, and readers of classic mysteries will soon recognise many features and make comparisons with other well-known detectives (he is a foreigner, in this case German, he is very intelligent although not overbearing, and we get a good sample of a variety of characters, red herrings, motives, secrets, twists and turns). The main case, which frames the classic mystery, is written in the first person by Susan, whom we meet at a difficult time in her life, when she’s been living in Crete long enough for it to lose some of its shine, and she is wondering if she made the right decision leaving her life in the UK behind, so she jumps at the chance of going back to England and making some money. As you will imagine, she gets more than she bargained for.
I won’t go into detail about the ins and outs of both plots. There are also too many characters to go through, but one of the joys is that Alan Conway used some of the real people as inspiration for the characters in his book, so it’s impossible not to keep looking for similarities and differences as we read. I liked Susan. She is not a typical detective, and she keeps questioning herself as to why she is doing what she is doing. She does suffer badly from impostor syndrome, and a bit like Pünd himself, she wonders if she has not caused more harm than good with her intervention. As I mentioned before, readers, writers, and anybody who has ever edited or corrected a book will particularly enjoy this novel, as there is plenty of discussion as to the process of publishing a book, what is involved, the decisions people make, and how obsessed one can become with what seem to be minor details (but are fundamental to this genre). This is metafiction in action, and I enjoyed it immensely. And I liked Pünd as well. Although we don’t get to know him as closely as we do Susan, there are glimpses of the man behind the brain, and it is a fully-fleshed character.
Regarding the motives and themes featured in the novels there is nothing terribly original or unexpected here, and there is a familiarity that readers of the genre will appreciate. It’s well done, that’s for sure, but there is nothing there that will keep any of us awake at night or will bring a new insight into any important subjects. That is not the book’s aim, either, and, as I said, it provides good solid entertainment, although it won’t work for people looking for hard-edge crime stories or police procedurals heavy on the scientific side of things. On the other hand, I can easily imagine it as a good TV series, and I would be more than happy to watch it.
The writing is fluid, with enough details of the settings and characters to allow us to get a clear picture in our minds without getting in the way of the story. There are stylistic differences between the two novels that make it easy to know what we are reading, although I recommend readers to try to set aside a good chunk of time to read it, as otherwise due to the share number of them, the characters and details of both cases can easily get confused. And, keep your wits about you and pay attention as you read. The pace is not frantic, and you do get time to think, but the clues keep coming and there are enough twist and turns to get one’s head spinning. 
Both endings are good and they mirror each other in a pretty satisfying way. Did I guess? I guessed the solution to one of the cases, more or less, (I won’t say which one), but there are so many things to pick on and so many clues to analyse, that it can keep readers busy for quite a while. 
My first read of one of Horowitz’s books was very enjoyable. He has many fans, and although some preferred the first one in this series (that I now feel quite curious about, and although there are plenty of references to it in this book, I expect to enjoy nonetheless), others thought this one was better. I recommend it to people who love mysteries, in particular classic mysteries, and although some of the subtext and side-themes are slightly dark, the book is not explicit or violent either (there is a bloody nose and some scary moments, but not much else), so I think it will suit most readers of the genre. If you want two mysteries for the price of one and a book that will keep you engaged and entertained and help you forget about 2020, I recommend it. A great read.
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A follow up to the Magpie Murders, this is a novel within a novel. I like Anthony Horowitz's storytelling but this book was overlong, most of the characters with the exception of Susan, the main protagonist and a cute dog, quite despicable. An enjoyable read.
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Another absolute belter 'starring' Anthony Horowitz. i love these books - it's such a unique idea! He's a real crime writing star though, who certainly knows how to weave a thrilling narrative.
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The method of using a book inside a book is brilliant. The story and the writing of the contained book inside the book aren't great, but it feels like you are picking apart the novel with a reader/editor friend. Mainly, I enjoyed the asides about the writing of the story inside the story, and how unlikely it was that Poirot always gathered the suspects in the drawing-room to reveal the killer. It is a masterfully woven story as you are lead to believe that the story will reveal the killer inside the inner book, but it's not as straightforward as that. The more I think about it, the more complex the dénouement became.
 
I cannot say the same for the characters; I didn't much care for them. In parts, they felt a bit exaggerated, which left lots of characters being flat and one-dimensional. I'm inclined to think that even though Horowitz is a male writing a female character, it often misses the nuances of being a female. For example, how women feel about other women, in parts, it felt a bit contrived. I found that I liked Susan despite her penchant for Grecian hunks I still felt in good company with her.

It was a cosy and enjoyable story, and it was fun and easy to read. Reaching the ending felt like completing a puzzle you'd been quietly working on for a while. Sometimes you need that in a book, it's what my mum would call televisual cocoa. 

Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this in advance.
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3.5
“Even as I parked the MG on the gravel it occurred to me that any writers wanting to set a murder in a classic country house would find all the material they needed here. And any killers wanting to get rid of a body would have hundreds of acres in which to do it.”

Book editor Susan Ryeland has been asked by the owners of a fancy hotel to investigate their daughter Cecily's disappearance, which was apparently triggered by something in the last book Susan edited for the late crime writer, Alan Conway. He wrote a murder mystery based on a murder that happened at their hotel many years earlier.

We first met Susan and Alan in Magpie Murders, an intriguing, clever mystery within a mystery, where Alan was very much alive. Conway would take details from real events, rework them, add puzzles – not simple clues – and present a story in a way that an astute reader should be able to decipher. I very much enjoyed the challenge of that one.

But Alan was a strange, irritable and irritating man. He continues to annoy Susan, even after his death.

“I wanted to stretch my legs so I walked up the High Street, past the cemetery where Alan was buried. I thought about visiting his grave – I could see it between two yew trees – but decided against it. We’d always had a difficult, edgy relationship and if I’d gone to have a quiet chat at the gravestone there was every chance it would have turned into a quarrel.”

Susan worked with Alan on this novel, too, struggling to get him to change names of some of the characters, but he remained adamant. Knowing his love of anagrams and hidden clues, she (and we readers) are to assume every name deserves scrutiny. She doesn't remember this book well, but she does remember Alan saying they got the wrong man.

I enjoyed the novelty of the challenge in Magpie, but Moonflower doesn’t have the same appeal for me. It’s a long book. The first third is Susan’s personal story and eventually her visit to the hotel in question. Cecily's parents tell Susan that Cecily said Conway’s book identified the real hotel killer (not the man who was jailed for it), and since then Cecily has disappeared.

Susan arrives at their pricey hotel, feeling decidedly underdressed. It is certainly not as rustic as the one she and Andreas own on Crete.

“I unpacked with a growing sense of discomfort. Transported to an expensive wardrobe in an expensive room, my clothes didn’t so much hang as droop.”

When meeting with Cecily's father, he mentions that Cecily and her sister, Lisa, have always bickered, as evidenced by Lisa’s unsightly scar. Apparently while the girls were arguing at the ages of 10 and 12, Cecily threw a kitchen knife that struck and sliced the corner of Lisa's mouth.

“He picked up his wine glass. ‘Girls will be girls!’ He said it as toast but I didn’t join in. Girls might be girls, but not, I thought, borderline psychotics.”

With Susan, we meet quite a company of characters, some still present, and some who have come and gone. And then, we move into Conway’s “Atticus Pünd Takes the Case”, which casts different people in similar roles, such that we have to match couples and rivals with their ‘real’ counterparts. Of course, Conway uses artistic licence to change things around.

As I said, I really enjoyed "Magpie Murders." I don’t think this is the same calibre. It is long and crowded, but I finally got to the end – admittedly after beginning to skim, because I found none of the characters particularly engaging and the plot was dragging. Then there is a long convoluted explanation, a bit reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s style, but some of the supposed clues and links were so tenuous and complicated, that it just fell flat for me.

I enjoy cryptic crosswords and anagrams, although I don’t pretend to be an expert, so I expected to enjoy the attempt to figure this out. Sadly, I didn’t. But Horowitz is a good writer – meaning he puts words together and sets scenes and draws characters and creates plots well – but this one didn’t do it for me.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the preview copy from which I’ve quoted. Don’t take my word for this, though. A lot of readers love it!
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Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for allowing me to read this book.
What a book, well two books in one a long and interesting read. I did some problems with a book within a book, I got through it.
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