Book Reviews, Fiction, Mysteries, Thrillers, Uncategorized

Magpie Murders – A Book Review

 Magpie Murders: A Novel, by Anthony Horowitz, is a perfect example of why I started this blog. I absolutely loved it, and kept thinking throughout that I had to recommend it other mystery readers. But since I’m not one to give unsolicited book recommendations (too often), I’m on the blog instead!

Anthony Horowitz wrote another favorite of mine, Moriarty: A Novel, so I was pretty certain I’d enjoy Magpie Murders as well. A little background on my reading habits… I’m a quick reader, averaging three to four books a week. I have so many books on my nightstand and kindle that I want to read, and I feel pressure to get through as many as I can before they’re due back to the library. Does anyone else feel that way? Magpie Murders is due TODAY, with no holds left (should I put a post-it note in for the next reader that they’re going to love it?!) and there was no way I’d leave it unfinished. So I started it Saturday, thinking I’d finish it on Sunday. I checked the page number at the end, 236, and thought for sure that wouldn’t be a problem. And then I got into the story, and realized how wrong I was — the book is, in fact, 496 pages. And it’s not just one book, but a mystery novel within a mystery novel. If you like smart English crime fiction, Magpie Murders is definitely a book to check out. Here’s the description from the inside cover:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Moriarty and Trigger Mortis, this fiendishly brilliant, riveting thriller weaves a classic whodunit worthy of Agatha Christie into a chilling, ingeniously original modern-day mystery.

When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.

Masterful, clever, and relentlessly suspenseful, Magpie Murders is a deviously dark take on vintage English crime fiction in which the reader becomes the detective.

Let me know your thoughts on the book if you read it! What books have you been devouring this month?

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

The Other Alcott – A Review

The Other Alcott: A Novel is a beautiful debut novel written by Elise Hooper. Here’s the description from the back cover:

There is nothing more complicated than the relationship among sisters, and the one shared by the Alcott sisters of Concord, Massachusetts, was no exception. This inspired Louisa May Alcott as she wrote her classic novel Little Women, but while everyone cheers on Jo March, a character based on Louisa herself, Amy is often the least favorite sister. Now, it’s time to learn the truth about the real “Amy,” Louisa’s sister May.

Stylish, outgoing, creative, May Alcott grows up longing to experience the wide world beyond Concord. While her sister Louisa crafts stories, May is a talented and dedicated artist, one who takes lessons in Boston, turns down a marriage proposal from a well-off suitor, and faces scorn for entering what is very much a man’s profession.

Life for the Alcott family has never been easy, so when Louisa’s Little Women is published, its success eases the financial burdens they have been facing for so many years. Everyone agrees the novel is charming, but May is struck to the core by the portrayal of the selfish, spoiled “Amy March.” Is this what her beloved sister really thinks of her?

So May embarks on a quest to discover her true identity, as an artist and a woman. From Boston to Rome, London, and Paris, this brave and determined soul forges an amazing life of her own, making her so much more than merely “The Other Alcott.”

I would recommend The Other Alcott to those who enjoy: historical fiction, absorbing stories that develop slowly, artists from the 1800s, and are fans of Louisa May Alcott’s books. Although I haven’t read Little Women all the way through, I knew enough about the March family (I was named after Meg, after all) to understand the underlying tension of May being portrayed as the spoiled Amy March.

I also enjoyed reading the author’s notes at the end – sometimes when reading historical fiction I wonder how much creative license an author makes (which might be why I disliked The Other Einstein so much), but Hooper based a lot of the story on facts she accumulated from multiple sources. So not only was it a great book, I learned a lot about the Alcott family as well!

What historical fiction novels would you recommend? Post your recommendations in the comments!