BOOKS: Moonflower Murders: Anthony Horowitz

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Jul. 17—In "Moonflower Murders," Anthony Horowitz returns to the conceit of his previous novel within a novel of "Magpie Murders."

In both books, readers get one mystery surrounding Susan Ryeland, a book editor, who must solve a mystery some how connected to a mystery book written by Alan Conway, her most famous author.

In "Magpie Murders," Horowitz gave Ryeland a few pages to open the mystery before shifting readers to the book written by Conway which is missing its last chapter. So, Ryeland is trying to find the missing piece of the manuscript and solve who murdered a colleague.

With "Mayflower Murders," Ryeland is pulled into another mystery due to Conway and his famed literary detective Atticus Pund. Here, a woman has disappeared. Her parents run a hotel where a murder occurred on the woman's wedding day there several years earlier.

In the aftermath of the murder, Conway had visited the hotel because he knew the murder victim. He loosely based his novel, "Atticus Pund Takes the Case" on the murder at the hotel, insinuating to people he knew that the wrong man had been convicted in the wedding day murder.

Conway dies. Several years later, the woman reads "Atticus Pund Takes the Case" and announces that Conway was right — someone else did commit the murder. She then disappears. Her parents reach out to Ryeland, hoping Conway's former editor may have some insight into Conway, how the book reveals the real murderer and the whereabouts of their daughter.

So, the book spends a couple hundred pages with Ryeland's mystery until she rereads "Atticus Pund Takes the Case," which is when Horowitz writing as Conway offers readers a second full mystery for a couple hundred pages, then he switches back to the writing style and conclusion of the Ryeland mystery.

Pund is a detective similar to Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Nero Wolfe, etc. Pund is an eccentric, brilliant loner whose passion is solving crimes, set in the years after World War II. Though Horowitz writes as the fictional author of the manuscript, he has a flair for the old-school whodunit — many readers wouldn't mind reading more Pund books and they have been given two so far.

Writing for the Ryeland portions of the book, Horowitz writes in a more contemporary style. Dialogue includes emails and text messages in places.

Horowitz is more fun to read when he's writing as Conway than when he's writing as, well, Horowitz.

It may sound confusing but the whole thing makes sense. And given the fictional Conway wrote several Atticus Pund books before dying, the real-life Horowitz has the opportunity to write more Pund books within books for Ryeland.

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