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Moonflower Murders

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Member Reviews

Well , let's start with saying that Anthony Horowitz is fast becoming one of my favourite authors.

After I read Magpie Murders and knew a sequel was on the way, I thought - how can he top that uniqueness? How can Horowitz keep the same amazing twists from his first in this series into this new work?

I never want to risk spoilers and that is why I always hold back on reviews like this, I never want to give anything anyway.

This is wonderful, it's just as unique in telling the story (as it combines the modern day story with the fictional book in book story of  Attitcus Pund - a homage to our beloved Poirot). The only element I can possibly mark this down on, is the ending. It was not quite as surprising or impactful as in Magpie - HOWEVER - this is still bloody brilliant.
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A book within a book and a story within a story combined to weave a tale that kept me hooked from the very first page. Two "private" investigators, one professional and the other almost accidental working in their respective books to solve their case; yes, ultimately, just the one case. A fascinating concept that it is hinted to pay homage to Agatha Christie, for me, this was. in all respects, just so much better. Give yourself a real treat, you will not be disappointed.
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I absolutely loved Moonflower Murders - it's such a clever concept, having a book within a book, and I loved the Agatha Christie style story with all the intertwining, outrageous characters which kept me guessing until the end.

The ending was slightly ridiculous, but that's what's go great about these kind of stories. They're just a lot of escapist fun.
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I really enjoyed this book and you get two mysteries for the price of one, an added bonus I was not expecting. Both plots were well throughout and kept me guessing. All the characters are believable and although there are a lot of them, they were easy to keep track of. It’s difficult to write this review as I feel I have just read two books in quick succession and although they are both murder mysteries, they have a completely different feel to them. I definitely recommend this book and will be looking out for other Anthony Horowitz books to read.
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I just love the whole concept of this series and hope there's more to come. This was a really well crafted sequel, carrying over all the good things about the first one but breathing new life into the format. My only quibble is that the Atticus Pund books (the books-within-the-books) never quite seem to live up their in-universe hype, plus they're always about 100 pages long. Nevertheless, this is easy enough to overlook when the plot around it is so compelling.
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4.5 stars.

Anthony Horowitz does this so well - the book within a book thing. Susan Ryeland (from Magpie Murders) is back. Two years after her star author, Alan Conway, died along with her editing career, she and Andreas are living in Crete and running a small hotel. An English couple approach her for help. Lawrence and Pauline Treherne run a boutique hotel in Sussex, Branlow Hall. Their daughter, Cecily, who works at the hotel has recently disappeared. What has this got to do with Susan? Well, Cecily had just read Conway's third book - Atticus Pünd Takes The Case. Aspects of the story are loosely based on the real life murder of Frank Parris who was brutally bashed to death with a hammer at Branlow Hall eight years ago. One of the staff, a young Romanian man called Stefan Codrescu was charged with the murder and has been in jail ever since.

Cecily had always doubted his guilt. When she read the book she saw something that convinced her that Stefan was innocent and that pointed to the real murderer. She rang her parents and told them this without naming names. That afternoon she disappeared never to be seen again. Susan who, as Conway's editor knew of his foibles and writing style (he had a habit of including cryptic details within his writing) was considered well placed to find what was hidden in the book. The promise of a generous payment sweetened the deal as the Cretan hotel needed many repairs.

Susan heads of to England to investigate. And that is where I will leave it. This was a long complex book with many characters that took some concentration to read. It is, after all, two books in one. But it was well worth the effort. Horowitz's Susan Ryeland books pay homage to Agatha Christie and fans of the grand dame of whodunits should really enjoy this. The pace is not that fast but the story presents an intriguing mystery that you cannot help but try to solve as you read along. Sadly I didn't crack it. Will you take the challenge? For me it was a very enjoyable journey into something different to my usual genre. Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and Anthony Horowitz for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz
I give this 4 stars
Susan Ryeland is a retired publisher,an English couple ask her to research a mysterious murder on the same day,in the same hotel in which their daughter Cecily was married.Cecily has now gone missing a few hours after reading Atticus Pund Takes The Case, a crime novel Susan edited some years previously.
The clues to the murder and to Cecily’s disappearance must lie within the pages of this novel.
But to save Cecily, Susan must place her own life in mortal danger…
You start off reading a clever British crime thriller but then suddenly you're also reading the novel that the whole story is based around to! A mystery within a mystery,clues within clues.This worked really well and l loved the concept.Plot twists a plenty, well paced,and kept me guessing,finished off with the classic big reveal at the end.Superb murder mystery.
Highly recommended
Thanks to Netgalley, the Author and the Publisher for my chance to read and review this book
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This is an ingenious book. Mr Horowitz is certainly a glutton for punishment, writing two murder mysteries, with plenty of red herrings and twists, in one book.

It starts with former book editor Susan Ryeland wondering if throwing it all up to run a seedy Cretan hotel with her sort-of fiancee is really what she wants. Even if it is compensated by a fabulous view. Then the past interferes. Her bête-noir author, now deceased, has stirred up trouble at a smart Suffolk hotel. Can Susan unravel the riddle that the missing Cecily meant when she read the book and says she knows 'who dunnit' after another man confessed?

After meeting all the cast of the Suffolk hotel, all of whom appear to be cliches or cardboard cut-outs (including Susan herself), we are treated to the whole book the fictional author wrote. The one that contains the truth about the murder that took place at thje Moonflower Hotel. Well, no, not the Moonflower hotel, the Suffolk hotel has a Moonflower Suite; it's the Moonflower Hotel in the book-within-the book.  Apparantely the fictional author enjoys puzzles and jokes within his books. The characters are based on the real hotel staff; various other clues are liberally spread about, pointing to who the author thinks did the murder at the Suffolk hotel.

I did what I often do when I'm reading a book I'm finding boring or tedious... I skipped through the advance reviews.  It is obvious that Mr Horowitz has a large fanbase that thrive on such artifices as name anagrams and the like. Some were slightly less enthusiastic, including one that said they struggled through the first third but then it got better.

I struggled through the first two-thirds before I really started to enjoy it. By then the book had finished, with a clever denouement, but I was continually irritated by the derivative approach. You know something's wrong if you read a murder mystery and can't read the sleuth as the German he's supposed to be. I've worked with and have German friends.  I kept sliding into a Belgian accent for him. Even Hare, the DCI, sounded just like Jupp. And the secretary Miss Cain, would have done quite well as Miss Lemon. The umlaut on Atticus Pünd's name irritated me every single time I read it. I have no idea how Mr Horowitz expects us to say it. Did he just not want the average US reader to rhyme it with fund?

So, after Ms Ryeland was back and doing her own investigation, she kindly made a table for us listing the characters in the Pünd book with the characters in the Suffolk hotel. It was deathly boring. Maybe some readers like it. It just felt so heavy-handed. 'Here we are, dear reader, I know I've made this very difficult for you, so I'm making it easier with a summary you can refer back to.' Patronising, that's the word I'm looking for.

But strangely, after that nadir, it turned around, and became a very good story. Several red herrings were exposed and deposed, earlier hints explained in full, and at last everything came together.

I can't genuinely say I recommend this. The characters are nowhere near as rounded as those of many cosy mystery authorss. But Mr Horowitz has done an entertaining job with plenty of complications for those who like their cryptic crosswords in book format. Somehow, from his reputation, I expected it to be better.
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I really enjoyed this cleverly-plotted book with all its twists and red herrings although it took me a while to read because, with the book-within-a-book, there were so many characters to remember.  I was attracted by the gorgeous cover and loved both stories, the writing style and the settings. The characters were intriguing and believable, and Susan, the publisher was a great choice of amateur detective
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Having been a fan of Anthony Horowitz's work since I was a kid, I was intrigued to see what this book would be like. I hadn't read the previous book so was going into it blindly, not knowing a jot about any of the characters however this didn't dull the enjoyment.

I enjoyed the storyline immensely and really struggled with who the culprit could be and I enjoyed the 'book within a book' although I felt at times it was a little laboured and went on a little too long. I couldn't help drawing comparisons between the fictional detective Atticus Pund in the book within a book and another fictional detective in Hercule Poirot although it was explained that Conway, the author of the Atticus Pund novel, was a Christie fan.

I did enjoy this read although not as much as the author's other work as at times the storyline just dragged on a little too long where it would have benefited by being a bit shorter.
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A proper whodunnit with lots of twists, turns, red herrings and diversions, and a great final scene that will put all the pieces in place.  I really enjoyed this homage to the Golden Age of Crime with its clues scattering the pages and characters revealing motives.  I didn't really find the book within the book entirely necessary - it seems to be the trademark of this series - and the alternative names and plot confused me (even more) but the book moved at a good pace and the final scenes are well worth the wait.
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‘It’s about a murder.’

Like ‘Magpie Murders’, this is a book within a book.  It is a follow-up to ‘Magpie Murders’ and while it can be read as a standalone novel, the background from the earlier book is useful.

The main character in this novel is Susan Ryeland, now a retired publisher living on a small Greek Island with her boyfriend Andreas.  They are running a small hotel, but it is particularly challenging, and Susan is starting to miss her previous life.

Two visitors arrive at the hotel – the Trehernes – and they tell Susan a mysterious story.  A murder took place at their hotel in Suffolk, UK, on the day of their daughter’s wedding.  A man was convicted of the murder.  But the couple were recently contacted by their daughter Cecily who told them that she had read a novel about the famous literary detective Atticus Pünd based on a murder which had taken place at their hotel.  Cecily claimed that the novel, ‘Atticus Pünd Takes the Case’ by Alan Conway, proved that the wrong man had been convicted. Cecily has now gone missing.  Can Susan help?  After all, she had edited and published this novel and must have some insights.  The Trehernes have read the novel but can’t see any connections.

Susan is fascinated.  And when the Trehernes offer her a fee (which will help her and Andreas with their hotel), she is happy to return to the UK.

‘The whole thing should be easy when actually it makes no sense at all.’

I really enjoyed this novel.  So many red herrings and twists to negotiate.  There are similarities between the murder mystery in ‘Atticus Pünd Takes the Case’ and the murder that took place on Cecily Treherne’s wedding day.  Who was responsible for the murder?  And where is Cecily?


Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.  

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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ANOTHER murder mystery with a clever concept from one of our most inventive and varied crime-fiction writers.
The hugely enjoyable Moonflower Murders reads like a novel from the golden age of whodunnits but with a modern makeover to avoid cliché, creakiness and too much cosiness.
Correction, make that two novels, because this concoction of infidelity, power-plays and brutal murder offers a story within a story – either of them entertaining on their own, but together verging on brilliant.
The creator of TV' Midsomer Murders first introduced us to the world-famous crime novelist Alan Conway and his 1950s detective Atticus Pund – a sort of German Poirot – in the bestseller Magpie Murders.
Conway AND Angie were, and the text of Angie's first "novel" was contained within a story about a "real-life" murder involving Conway and his editor Susan Ryeland.
The clever concept I referred to was that Angie played games with words, and Pund's novel contained clues that helped real-life – this time I do mean real-life – readers solve the "real-life" murder.
Horowitz repeats the concept in Moonflower Murders, and while there is go surprise value this time round, he does his best to give us something special.
In Atticus Pund Takes The Case, the "fictional" German detective is summoned to a country hotel to investigate a murder.
The "real-life" Susan is summoned to a similar country hotel where one of the sisters who runs it has disappeared, immediately after finding clues in the Pund novel about a "real-life" murder that happened eight years before.
Did the Romanian handyman really kill a guest with a hammer? Was he framed? Was someone else the target? Just how many dark secrets do the staff and guests have?
And what did the novelist Alan Conway find out about the "real-life" murder when he visited the hotel and came up with the idea for his "fictional" murder?
Both plots in Moonflower Murders recall typical plots by Agatha Christie and other giants of the golden age, and as I said before both plots are entertaining.
For most of the novel this is enough to keep us reading, though for a long time it's hard to see how the plots intertwine apart from the characters telling us they do.
But it's worth waiting for the final few chapters: that's when the clues become apparent, in the traditional style of gathering the characters together in one room telling the truth.
And just when you think everything is revealed, in the final few pages come the real twists, the ones you didn't see coming, that make you nod appreciatively and give a great big satisfying "ahhh...".
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Having recently read (and LOVED) Anthony Horowitz's Magpie Murders, his first mystery to feature Susan Ryland and the Atticus Pünd novels, I was surprised to find myself approaching its sequel, Moonflower Murders, with some trepidation. The premise of Magpie Murders - and it's intricate interweaving of the two plots at its heart - was so unique that I was just a little worried that Horowitz wouldn't be able to pull off the same magic twice. 

My worries were, however, unfounded. Moonflower Murders more than lives up to the expectations set by it's predecessor. Using the same 'novel in a novel' premise as Magpie Murders, Susan Ryland finds herself once again embroiled in an eerily familiar mystery when she is asked to investigate the sudden disappearance of hotelier Cecily Trehearne. Eight years before, the Trehearne family's hotel, Branlow Hall, had been the site of a brutal murder that ruined Cecily's wedding day and resulted in the arrest of one of their staff for murder. But it appears that Cecily didn't think the outcome of the case was correct. Cecily's chance reading of 'Atticus Pünd Takes the Case' seems to have sparked a revelation. She knew what really happened to Frank Parris all those years ago. But it seems someone may have silenced her before she could reveal the truth.  As Susan arrives back in England, she finds herself once again confronting the legacy of Alan Conway, and turning to yet another Atticus Pünd novel to find the clues to a real-life mystery. 

What I really enjoyed about both Magpie Murders and Moonflower Murders is the way in which Horowitz moves so deftly between the two stories. Interconnections - some obvious and some fleeting - are woven between the two plot lines and there are tiny details and word games hidden within the book that can, with some thought, lead the reader to the truth behind the crime.

The worry with having a 'novel within a novel' is always that you'll find one story more enjoyable than the other but with both of these books I was utterly hooked by both plots - initially desperate to get back to Susan's investigation at Branlow Hall when the Atticus Pünd novel takes over, within a few pages I was completely hooked on Atticus' own investigation into the murder of a famous actress at the Moonflower Hotel! Writing two such engaging and interesting plots is no mean-feat and it's part of what makes these novels so very enjoyable for mystery fans.

I also liked the development of the main characters. Susan and her partner Andreas certainly become a lot more fleshed out in Moonflower Murders, and I was pleased to find some returning characters from Magpie Murders as a nice little nod to the previous book. I also felt that the supporting characters were a little more tangible in this novel - although the cast is still a large one, they felt a little more distinguishable in terms of traits and motivations.

As with Magpie Murders, I do still have one or two concerns about some of the characterisation in the books. Horowitz certainly tries to be diverse in the contemporary section of his novel but I didn't find any of the representation to be particularly positive. I found it disappointing that the only black character in the novel (or at least, the only character directly identified as being black) - a returning character that I had some issues with in the first book - is an aggressive racist, for example. I was also a unsettled by the fact that the LGBTQ+ characters all seem to end up being flamboyant stereotypes or sexual predators. I'm not saying that authors should only write 'nice' POC and LGBTQ+ characters - diversity of representation is vitally important and there is, of course, no one way to write about lived experiences - but I did find the overall negativity of the portrayals here somewhat jarring and, if I'm honest, rather stereotypical. 

That was, genuinely, my only issue with Moonflower Murders though and, that aside, I very much enjoyed this second slice of ingeniously plotted mystery, which comes replete with the usual plethora of red-herrings and suspicious goings on.

Fans of Magpie Murders are sure to love returning to both Susan Ryland and Atticus Pünd and, for newcomers to the series, the mysteries work perfectly well as a standalone (although you should go and read Magpie Murders too - it's a lot of fun!) and is sure to keep you turning the pages long past your usual bedtime!
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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.
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A most interesting and unique who-done-it with two stories for the price of one. A young lady manager of a country Hotel that once had a guest murdered suddenly becomes a missing person. It seems that she had read a thriller about a murder in a hotel that threw new light on the past event. Her parents the owner of the hotel feared that her disappearance was to silence her. As the author was dead; the publishing editor of the book was commissioned to investigate and to read the book for clues. However, first she had to establish the events of the murder, but when she read it, the book was a completely different, although on a  hotel elsewhere and based on the caricatures of the same people. What she discovers and how she stumbles on rhe vital clue and how she exposes a miserable disparate cast of characters who were hidden behind a benign friendly façade makes an engrossing read.
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A clever idea for a book - the second in a series, but my first by Anthony Horowitz.  It was full of new ideas on the old detective genre, but managed to retain a sense of period detail and its modern overall setting, complete with emails and contemporary references.  The book within a book idea, apparently used in the earlier book,'The  Magpie Murders' as well, was a clever way of introducing an Agatha Christie style murder story into the modern bookends of the original story, but for me rather disrupted the action and the sense of the first part of the novel.  

The central book worked in its own right and was engaging enough, if rather old-fashioned in tone, but by the time we returned to the original, I had lost who the characters were and how they related to the book.  In fact the rather clunky device to write them out in a list, complete with links to original characters and how their names had been devised, was quite boring, although necessary in order to have a fighting chance of following the connections.  Again a good idea, if rather awkwardly executed, along with other informative devices like emails and reported telephone conversations.  So an interesting book with some engaging and smart devices, but on the whole rather too clever and involved for its own good.
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This murder mystery reminds me of Miss Marple. The twist is it is a book within a book. It is well written and draws you in to suspect different characters different points throughout each of the stories. Easy to read and recommended if you like a puzzle.
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Another great read from Anthony Horrowitz, thank you Netgalley! 
This one follows on from The Magpie Murders but can also be read as a stand-alone book. Susan Ryeland has moved to Crete and is running a hotel when she meets Laurence and Pauline Treherne. They want her to investigate a murder and think that it’s replicated in an Atticus Pund novel. 
As before, it’s a story within a story which is so clever as there are so many different threads which all get tied up nicely. The secondary story is much shorter in The Moonflower Murders but is equally as effective. 
Definitely highly recommended, it’s a cosy crime meets thriller novel and kept me hooked throughout.
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I was nervous starting ‘Moonflower Murders’ for two reasons. I really liked the first book in the series, ‘Magpie Murders’ with its ingenious book within a book format and its affectionate dissection of the mystery genre, but I had no idea how Anthony Horowitz could pull off the same trick again without it feeling forced. Secondly, I loved his first Sherlock Holmes novel, ‘The House of Silk’, but found the follow up ‘Moriarty’ a dull and confusing mess. Fortunately, I needn’t have worried. I’m not sure ‘Moonflower Murders’ is quite as good as the book that preceded it, but it is a credible and very enjoyable sequel.
It’s set a couple of years after ‘Magpie Murders’, with book editor turned sleuth pulled out of her relatively normal life when a couple approach her asking to investigate a murder. The crime took place a few years ago at the hotel they run, with one of the staff convicted for it. However, recent events, and a secret hidden in a book by none other than Alan Conway have caused them to doubt the conviction. It’s a fairly elegant way to set things up for a double mystery in the style of the first book. Again we get both a “real” mystery investigated by Susan, and a fictional one featuring Conway’s creation, Atticus Pünd. 
‘Moonflower Murders’ is another very enjoyable novel from Horowitz. It’s populated with twists and turns, a bit of politics (around the demonisation of Eastern European immigrants by the tabloid press), romance, humour and good old fashioned murder mysteries. What it lacks, compared to the first book, is a deeper examination of the crime genre. Perhaps Horowitz felt he’d already covered that, and to be fair he had, quite brilliantly. The book feels slightly inferior to its predecessor because of that, but that’s not to say it isn’t a great read. Whether Horowitz can pull off the same trick a third time remains to be scene, but I certainly hope he tries.
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