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Reading Pathways: Anthony Horowitz

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Elisa Shoenberger


Elisa Shoenberger has been building a library since she was 13. She loves writing about all aspects of books from author interviews, antiquarian books, archives, and everything in between. She also writes regularly for Murder & Mayhem and Library Journal. She's also written articles for Huffington Post, Boston Globe, WIRED, Slate, and many other publications. When she's not writing about reading, she's reading and adventuring to find cool new art. She also plays alto saxophone and occasionally stiltwalks. Find out more on her website or follow her on Twitter @vogontroubadour.

As a murder mystery aficionado, I’m always on the look out for a clever, well-written murder mystery. I have high standards; an interesting and plausible mystery is more important to me than great characters or a beautifully written mystery. When I find a combination of all three factors, it’s a good day. That’s what I found in Anthony Horowitz’s The Magpie Murders. As I read more of Horowitz’s work, I realized that he’s written several series. Here’s four of them:

The Magpie Murders – Atticus Pund/Susan Ryeland Series

The Magpie Murders is the first in the Atticus Pund/Susan Ryeland series. Ryeland is the editor of famous murder mystery writer Alan Conway, who is working on his latest Detective Atticus Pund manuscript. The book Magpie Murders is a murder in a small English town, a fairly familiar murder mystery trope. Ryeland does not like Conway, he’s a piece of work but puts up with him because of her job. However as she reads his newest manuscript, Ryeland realizes that there’s more to the book than meets the eye. It’s a book within a book. 

And more excitingly, it’s now a series. The sequel Moonflower Murders comes out on November 10, 2020. Ryeland is brought back to look into a murder at an English hotel that had happened years ago. A murderer was convicted at the time but the hotel owners’ daughter went missing after leaving a message saying that she thinks the police got it wrong. She told them that Alan Conway’s book based on the murder and hotel had convinced her. The parents ask Ryeland to come in and figure out what happened since she knew Conway’s work.  It’s another well written mystery, again with a book within a book. I look forward to seeing more books in this series.

The Word is Murder – Detective Daniel Hawthorne Series

This two book series features a writer named Anthony Horowitz and disgraced ex-police officer Daniel Hawthorne, now an investigator. Hawthorne approaches Horowitz about ghostwriting a book about his work. While he’s no longer a police officer, Hawthorne is brought in to help the police solve difficult cases. His latest case is about a woman who walks into a funeral parlor to arrange her own funeral and ends up dead six hours later. Horowitz is brought dragging and screaming into the case. It’s a two book series so far, with The Sentence is Death.

One thing was that it took me a little while to realize that the main character was the writer. He mentions the books he had already written—even the kids books and the TV show! I kept checking to make sure the books weren’t nonfiction or based on a true story but as far as I can tell it’s not! So that’s kinda neat little twist on top of a clever series.

The House of Silk – Sherlock Holmes Series

For Sherlock Holmes aficionados, this one’s for you. It’s the first book authorized by the estate of Sherlock Holmes in 125 years. A fine art dealer goes to Holmes and Watson because he is being threatened by a criminal who has followed him from the U.S. In the days following his visit to 221B, the dealer’s home is robbed, family threatened, and then there is a murder. Holmes and Watson dive into an international criminal conspiracy, centered around the phrase of ‘House of Silk.”

There’s a second book in the series, Moriarty, as well as a short story. I hope we’ll see more in this series in the upcoming years.

Trigger Mortis – James Bond Series

While James Bond isn’t strictly murder mystery, spy thrillers are always fun. Including original material by the creator Ian Fleming himself, Horowitz brings Bond to life. Set after the events of Goldfinger, Bond has to stop an attempt to sabotage an international Grand Prix in West Germany. With the help of an American female spy, the duo heads to the US to stop the nefarious plot involving blowback from the Korean war. There’s a second book featuring our favorite spy, called Forever and a Day.

These four series are just a taste of Horowitz’s work. He’s written other series including the middle grade Alex Rider books, and he was a writer for WWII drama/ murder mystery television show Foyle’s War. I also just learned Horowitz helped adapt some mysteries for TV show Midsomer Murders, which has been described as the English Murder She Wrote!

For folks who want more murder mysteries, check out this list of great British murder mysteries or this list of writers like Agatha Christie.