Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz is a sandwiching together of two mysteries – one murder, one disappearance – that take place eight years apart in the same place. Second in Horowitz’s crime series featuring literary agent Susan Ryeland and Atticus Pünd, the fictional hero of her client Alan Conway’s 1950s detective books – are you keeping up? – this is at the same time a page-turning read and a mystifying Rubik’s Cube challenge. Definitely a book that will reward re-reading.
Susan’s, now deceased, author Conway loved word play and riddled his short novels with in-jokes, complicated clues and witticisms. Many of these only make sense at the very end of Horowitz’s book. Susan, now living in Crete with boyfriend Andreas, running the just-surviving Hotel Polydorus, is asked by the owners of Branlow Hall hotel in Suffolk to investigate the disappearance of their daughter Cecily. Eight years earlier, one of the hotel’s staff was convicted of murdering a guest, Frank Parris. Shortly after the trial, Conway visited the hotel after which he wrote, Atticus Pünd Takes the Case. The book was edited by Susan who knew nothing about the links to the real-life crime.
Cecily, who manages Branlow Hall with her sister, reads Conway’s novel and is certain the wrong man was convicted of the crime. And then she disappears. How did Conway use the real crime in his fictional Atticus Pünd mystery to reveal the true murderer? What did Cecily see in the book that convinced her of the convict’s innocence? How can Susan unravel the clues and fit together two completely separate stories? And what has happened to Cecily?
The story is littered with clues, everyone has something to hide and it seems everyone is lying. Alongside the detecting we have the continuing story of Susan’s life – did she do the right thing in moving from London to Crete, should she marry Andreas or leave him, can she really be happy running a hotel and not editing books? And like the first in the series, Magpie Murders, there is also a book-within-a-book; we also get to read Atticus Pünd Takes the Case.
Layer upon layer, at times there are so many twists and turns it seems tortuous. Yes, there are coincidences and convenient secrets but if you enjoy Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot you will enjoy spotting the Christie links. If you go-with-the-flow and don’t get caught up on keeping track of the details, this is a fun read.
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Here’s my review of Magpie Murders, first in the Susan Ryeland series.
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
MOONFLOWER MURDERS by @AnthonyHorowitz #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-5j9 via @SandraDanby