Magpie Murders - a Book Group discussion thread

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Apr 2018
9:10pm, 9 Apr 2018
27,293 posts
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One of the things l like best about whodunnits is the chance to try and work it out before the author reveals the true killer, being an active participant in the mystery even when not actually reading the book.

This evening, while I was making my sandwiches for tomorrow, I solved one of the mysteries left open in the unfinished book within a book.

Warning: the following contains spoilers. If you are reading this and haven't finished the book, then don't read the rest of this post.


OK, let's go.

At the end of the Atticus Pund novel, Pund says, quite surprisingly, that the one thing he does know is that Matthew Blakiston killed his wife. This is surprising because, while Blakiston Snr is a strong suspect in the murder of Sir Magnus, he had no motive to kill his estranged wife, and there isn't any suggestion he was even in the same country. Then I remembered that he had said that he had had a strange foreboding triggered by a magpie in a tree outside his window. As a result of this, he had attempted to telephone Mary, first at the lodge, then at Pye Hall. He had not pushed her down the stairs, but he had summoned her with a bell, and she had indeed tripped over the vacuum cable. The first murder was really an accident as first thought.

I haven't solved the murder of Sir Magnus yet. I suspect the backward gardener Brent carried out the burglary of the treasure trove, looking for the (fool's) gold he'd heard about when young Tom had drowned. He panicked and dumped most of his haul in the lake, selling just the belt buckle, but did he murder the man who had sacked him?

I don't know. But Johhnie Whitehead, who fences the buckle for him reappears in the publishing murder, as John White, the neighbour and enemy of Alan Warner. I haven't heard much about the latter yet, but it is the clearest clue in the analogous stories, so perhaps the least likely to be the answer to the real-life novel?

I shall think some more when I am in bed later, and pick up the audiobook again on my way to work tomorrow. (hence any mispellings I may have made, I haven't seen the names written down).
Apr 2018
1:14pm, 10 Apr 2018
27,302 posts
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*Alan Conway*

Maybe Conway fell too, and Sir Magnus is the only murder victim.

The vicar (both of them, in fact) is clearly a wrong-un, and there is something odd about his wife who enjoys frollicking barefoot (and bare-what-else?) in Dingle Dell, outraging Mary B.
Apr 2018
8:27am, 13 Apr 2018
27,339 posts
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Finished it.

I was right about Mary Blakiston and the naturist vicar.
I suspected Charles Clover, but didn’t see the key point of evidence.
I was disappointed that Sir Magnus’s killer proved to be the son, although the timeline of the murder was neat.
I way the novel both celebrated and subverted the genre was fun, but ultimately undermined the whole thing for me, leaving me feeling quite uninterested in the end.
Apr 2018
10:47am, 22 Apr 2018
8,488 posts
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Little Nemo
I liked the idea of a murder mystery inside a murder mystery book so this is why I chose this book.

I had assumed that it would alternate the book with the reaction to it so I was taken aback to see it was just the book after the beginning. I thought that I was going to have to pick the clues out of it myself which worried me as I'm not good at that. But I did love the style of the Christie-pastiche and found this part fun. I was keeping a note of what looked like mistakes and anomalies to see if this revealed whodunnit.

Then this part finished without the last chapters and went back to the editor narration and this took some getting used to. It was a bit tricky getting used to a new set of characters and then seeing if they were supposed to match the characters in the book. Once I got used to it I also enjoyed most of this section. I especially liked the police rant about how murderers aren't clever people planning stuff to taunt the authorities but are generally just angry and disorganised.

I couldn't work out how the reveal was going to work though. How would the author know who was going to kill him? So in the end I did like how it turned out - the end of the book was missing because the murderer had used part of it for the suicide note.

I didn't like the last parts of either book though. The mystery seemed a bit reached for with Pund making a lot of assumptions and conjecture. And I thought the editor giving it all up to move to Greece was an easy cop-out ending.

There were some problems with the book as a whole. None of the mistakes or anomalies that I'd noticed were relevant in the end so I'm not sure if they were genuine mistakes or just sloppy editing. Also I wasn't sure it was necessary to make the death look like a suicide, surely you could have pushed him over and it would have seemed like an accident? And would quite so many people have talked to the editor like that? It seemed a bit too easy for her to get info out of people.

But I still really enjoyed it in a non-demanding way. It was easy to read and kept the story moving nicely. I gave it an 8.
May 2018
2:39pm, 8 May 2018
22,987 posts
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Here I am, checking in at last. I returned the book today, but didn't have my library card with me, so I don't know how much my fines were.

Hm. I found this hard going, to be honest. I haven't read back yet. I got really stuck in the 'book' part and found the writing really ploddy and uninspiring. I guess it was meant to be, but to be honest I didn't find it improved much. It was WAAAY too long.

I was quite interested in whodunnit, in a sort-of fairly detached way, but none of the characters were that gripping or well-drawn, and there were too many of them (I'm old, you see).

It annoyed me that Atticus had an umlaut on his surname, as I'm pretty sure that that would not happen like that in German, even in someone's name, and it wasn't necessary for the joke.

Can you tell I didn't like it much? Sorry LN.
May 2018
2:44pm, 8 May 2018
22,988 posts
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I'm impressed by Dio's cleverness, though.

And I was so uninterested in the murder of Magnus Pie that I'd forgotten whodunnit already.
May 2018
3:59pm, 8 May 2018
8,515 posts
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Little Nemo
That's OK LindsD, it got quite mixed reviews so I know not everyone is going to like it. Apparently Stephen King liked it though which cheered me up!
May 2018
4:19pm, 8 May 2018
7,357 posts
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I liked reading about other people reading it though LN - is give that an 8 it only lacked a quality pastiche by McG. Christy Malry is going to take some beating on that front :-)

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About This Thread

Maintained by McGoohan
Margaret 'Maggie' Pye is a hardworking lawyer by day, but by night she is The Magpie, cost...

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