Anthony Horowitz doesn’t just provide one complicated story in his new crime novel. He provides two complicated stories, and the solution to one is hidden within the other.
Moonflower Murders begins with Susan Ryeland, former editor of now‑deceased Alan Conway’s crime fiction books.
She’s now in Crete running a hotel with her partner. But they’ve got money worries and she misses the literary world. Helpfully, a situation arises to make her richer and drag her back to books.
Lawrence and Pauline Treherne visit Susan with a problem. A man called Frank Parris was killed at their British hotel eight years ago, on the day of their daughter Cecily’s wedding. Cecily has now vanished.
What has this got to do with Susan?
Before Cecily disappeared, she read one of Alan Conway’s books, Atticus Pund Takes the Case. She then contacted her parents to tell them that the wrong man was in jail for Frank’s murder.
It turns out that Alan had stayed at the hotel after the murder, and a lot of the people he met appeared in his book. Susan had edited it. Who better to find the clue that identifies Frank’s real killer?
So follows Susan’s visit to a fancy hotel in Britain full of sad, infuriating and downright odd characters. Actually two visits. As Susan begins to re-read the book she edited years previously, she finds another hotel, another murder, another set of similar characters.
Horowitz has used the mechanism of a mystery within a mystery before. It’s a strength of the books that you get a sense of how nasty Alan is, even though he barely appears.
He looks down on his fans because he thinks crime fiction is boring.
So he fills the books with jokes and double meanings to “get one over” on his readers.
This literary device keeps the reader on their toes.
There are two sets of clues and red herrings to decipher. You are sent off to read his book halfway through the “actual” book, becoming part of the investigation.
At first it was annoying to move from one to the other. But I was quickly sucked into the new mystery, constantly wondering if this or that was a clue relevant to the first one.
The Moonflower Murders is a clever, engaging book that keeps you hooked until the end.