When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.
Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.
How I picked up this book
I recently requested “Moonflower Murders” on NetGalley and to my utter surprise, my request was approved!
As soon as I had it on my Kindle, I went on to Goodreads to add it to “Currently Reading” shelf and found out that it was a book 2 in a series!
Well… there was nothing to be done. I had Magpie Murders available at the library and I started reading this one instead.
What I thought of it
To begin with, I thought the book was way too slow and every time I picked it up, I ended up nodding off to sleep. To be fair to the author and the story, let me tell you that I had been drowning in work (things have been hectic) and that could very well have been the reason that I found myself sleeping as soon as I read a few passages.
I loved the idea of a novel within a novel (I have always loved that as I can get to experience two different world at the same time!) but the introduction of the novel within was a little confusing for me at start.
I went back and read the novel from beginning to make sense of how the characters changed all of a sudden along with the time and place. What was I missing? The thing was I had not read the goodreads synopsis before starting and I did not know at the time that it was a novel in a novel story. Anyway, in the second attempt I figured that out and my journey began.
Once I had gotten over nodding of to sleep every time I picked it up, the story was progressing at a very slow pace (it is, after all, a 500 page book!) and there were moments when I thought that I wish things will just hurry along because I was keen to know who did it. That’s the main point of detective fiction, is it not? And there were to be two answers in the book in my hand. I was simply being impatient.
The story started with a death and in the first 5 chapters, every new character that was introduced seems to be a suspect. The motive was there. The more the suspects, the more interesting a murder mystery so there was that. And the same theme continued with the remaining deaths in the book. It kept me on my toes as I put my deductive powers to use.
I had reached somewhat the same conclusion and I am glad about that.
The thing that bothered me the most about the story was slower than snail pace. That is why it a 3 star book for me.
The Detective Characters
Susan Ryeland: The perfect portrayal of how one must make do with people one works with because quite obviously one can never be friends with everyone or end up liking everyone. Also the fact that age is just a number was reflected in Susan’s attitude overall.
Atticus Pund: This guy had been in a Nazi Concentration Camp. This tidbit had been mentioned quite a few times but it does not lend to anything that he actually does as a detective. At least not something that I could decipher. His powers of deductions are mostly hidden. He does not really take us through his reasoning or processes and simply comes up with response. I didn’t quite like that.
There are many other characters but these are the only two that are integral to the Susan Ryeland series I believe. So, that is all for now.
Oh, lastly, I am conflicted about recommending or not this book as I have had a conflicted relationship with it.