Moonflower Murders

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I liked Anthony Horowitz's previous book, The Sentence is Death. It was an unconventionally tricky (the protagonist named "Anthony Horowitz") good read. This one, not so much.

Although it is tricky. The amateur detective here is Susan Ryeland, retired from her gig at a publishing house where she edited mysteries. (Which apparently ended badly, this is the second "Susan Ryeland" book Horowitz has written.) These days she manages a hotel on Crete with her boyfriend. It's a lot of work for a hotel on the edge of ruin.

So she's up for a change, and it's provided by the Trehernes, owner of a (much fancier and more expensive) hotel back in England. It was the scene of a gruesome murder, apparently committed by a Romanian immigrant ex-criminal working there. He confessed! Case closed!

Not so fast. It turns out that mystery writer Alan Conway visited the hotel after the murder. And wrote a novel afterward, Atticus Pünd Takes the Case, with loose connections to the story of the crime.

And then (stay with me here), the Treherne's daughter, Cecily read Conway's book. And was immediately convinced that the Romanian had been unjustly accused and imprisoned.

And then Cecily went missing.

Why are the Trehernes coming to see Susan? Well, Alan Conway is dead (previous book, I guess). But Susan edited the book in question, in a contentious relationship with Conway. Could she use her editorial insight and investigative skills to see if she could find the actual murderer and also determine what happened to Cecily?

What follows is a pretty standard 357-page whodunit with a large cast of potential suspects, some hostile, some obviously lying, one who tries to scare Susan off by dropping a large concrete owl on her head from a rooftop.

The tricky bit is that in the middle of that 357 pages is the complete (224 page) text of Atticus Pünd Takes the Case. Including the cover! That book is more in the style of Agatha Christie's Poirot mysteries, a brilliant immigrant (German, not Belgian) solving intricately-plotted crimes with (yes) a host of likely suspects.

And both books have the "I suppose you're wondering why I gathered you all here" scene where the characters are all assembled and the detective reveals the truth!

Not really my cup of tea, I like things a little more hard-boiled. Also the multiplicity of characters in both books seems designed to confuse. (Or maybe I'm getting too old to keep them straight.) But I was impressed with the detective work.

Last Modified 2021-06-03 9:17 AM EDT