Narrator: Lesley Manville, Allan Corduner
Series: Susan Ryeland #2
Published by HarperAudio on November 10, 2020
Length: 18 hrs 28 mins
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Retired publisher Susan Ryeland is living the good life. She is running a small hotel on a Greek island with her long-term boyfriend Andreas. It should be everything she's always wanted. But is it? She's exhausted with the responsibilities of making everything work on an island where nothing ever does, and truth be told she's beginning to miss London.
And then the Trehearnes come to stay. The strange and mysterious story they tell, about an unfortunate murder that took place on the same day and in the same hotel in which their daughter was married—a picturesque inn on the Suffolk coast named Farlingaye Halle—fascinates Susan and piques her editor’s instincts.
One of her former writers, the late Alan Conway, author of the fictional Magpie Murders, knew the murder victim—an advertising executive named Frank Parris—and once visited Farlingaye Hall. Conway based the third book in his detective series, Atticus Pund Takes the Cake, on that very crime.
The Trehearne’s, daughter, Cecily, read Conway’s mystery and believed the book proves that the man convicted of Parris’s murder—a Romanian immigrant who was the hotel’s handyman—is innocent. When the Trehearnes reveal that Cecily is now missing, Susan knows that she must return to England and find out what really happened.
Brilliantly clever, relentlessly suspenseful, full of twists that will keep readers guessing with each revelation and clue, Moonflower Murders is a deviously dark take on vintage English crime fiction from one of its greatest masterminds, Anthony Horowitz.
Moonflower Murders is the sequel to Magpie Murders, although I think it would work well as a stand alone. Once again we have a book within the book, and the return of publisher/amateur sleuth, Susan Ryeland. After the fallout from the last book, Susan is no longer working in publishing and is instead jointly owning and running a hotel in Crete with her long term Greek boyfriend, Andreas Patakis. A hotel is hard work day in and day out, with never-ending problems, and lots of debt. The truth is that she is missing England and her former profession as an editor.
So when Susan is approached by wealthy couple, Lawrence and Pauline Trehearne, to return to England and stay at the exclusive Branlow Hotel in order to look into the disappearance of their daughter, Cecily, it feels like just what she needs to do- and she’ll be getting paid. Eight years ago, a hotel guest had been brutally hammered to death. An ex-offender, Stefan Codrescu, was arrested and charged. There was plenty of evidence and a confession. Stefan is serving a 27-year prison sentence. Cecily had phoned her parents the day before she went missing, telling them Stefan hadn’t been guilty. She had just finished reading the late Alan Conway’s Atticus Pund Takes the Case, featuring his post-war German detective. The story was clearly based on the murder at the hotel and it had revealed to her who the real killer was. Susan has plenty of suspects to question, and then of course she, and we, have to read Conway’s novel, to find the killer.
This time around, the whole book within a book worked well for me. I found both stories interesting, although I might prefer Pund as a detective to Susan. Of course, he’s investigating during the 50s, which, let’s be honest, I tend to prefer to modern-day settings. The two mysteries work well together too. Conway’s hints and puzzles and depiction of the characters sheds a good light on the “true” mystery. Good characters with plenty of secrets, an intelligent sleuth, and clues that I missed, made it an enjoyable mystery. I listened to the audio and I do think having two narrators worked well, one for Atticus Pund Take the Case and one for Susan’s portion of the story. Each did a good job and fit their part well.