Let’s take a look at Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!



Magpie Murders* by Anthony Horowitz

(*Amazon Affiliate link)


A few weeks ago  I dipped my toe into metafiction with The Eighth Detective.  It is an interesting take on a mystery novel, so I dug up another example. Anthony Horowitz has been dabbling in metafiction mystery novels lately, mixing fictional reality and fictional fiction in interesting ways.

Summary:  Alan  Conway writes wildly successful British mysteries featuring detective Atticus Pünd. When his editor, Susan Ryeland, begins to read his newest manuscript, she becomes suspicious there’s more to the story than has been found in the earlier books, one that might involve a real murder.

First Sentence of Magpie Murders by Anthony Horwitz

A bottle of wine. A family-sized packet of Nacho Cheese Flavoured Tortilla Chips and a jar of hot salsa dip. A packet of cigarettes on the side (I know, I know). The rain hammering against the windows. And a book.

The book starts with a chapter from editor Susan Ryeland’s point of view as she sits down to read the manuscript. Except for the cigarettes, it sounds like a good day to me.

First Sentence of Magpie Murders by Alan Conway:

23 July 1955

There was going to be a funeral.

Okay, this is a bit mind boggling. After the first chapter comes a title page (with the same title but a different author, no less), about the author page, book blurbs, everything that you’d expect in a real book. In fact, it took me a few minutes to figure out where things actually started. I had to page back and forth a few times.

What’s really freaky is that the page numbering starts again for the manuscript, except the numbers are found at the bottom rather than the top of the page. The 56 is going to be inside the manuscript text.


The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The premise is simple. Turn to page 56 in the book and pick a quote.


‘He’d kill me,’ she replied. She smiled curiously. ‘Actually, he did try to kill me in a way — after our last row. ‘

It is weird to be looking for clues to more than one mystery within the text. There are the clues to the inside the manuscript mystery — as typically presented in a novel — and the clues to the outside of the manuscript mystery.  Which are which?

I’m beginning to think metafiction is going to require a whole new set of vocabulary words to describe the different layers.

What do you think? Would you give this a try? Have you read anything by Anthony Horowitz?