Magpie Murders, by Anthony Horowitz, Harper; $27.99, 464 pages.

Looking for a sophisticated whodunnit to read during the dog days of summer? British screenwriter Anthony Horowitz has you covered with Magpie Murders, a two-in-one murder mystery. A book within a book, part one is called Magpie Murders, a classic crime caper written by a contemporary fictional novelist, Alan Conway. Set in 1950s England, acclaimed crime solver Atticus Pünd attempts to solve multiple murders in a sleepy country village. Fans of the British t.v. series Midsomer Murders, also written by Horowitz, will find many similarities–multiple deaths, plenty of suspects, not much time to crack the case–but, just when it looks like the crime will be solved, the storyline jumps back to modern times, where Conway’s editor Susan has just learned of her star author’s suicide. Now there’s a new mystery to solve, with clues peppered throughout Conway’s manuscript. Some may be frustrated by the sudden break in the narrative, but stick with it; Horowitz deftly navigates the terrain with wit and style.

Young adult readers may recognize Horowitz’s name from the well-received Alex Rider spy series. Magpie Murders nicely segues into adult readership territory, and as classic summer reading fare, is best enjoyed on a quiet afternoon, preferably on shady porch, and definitely accompanied with something cool to drink. Cheers!

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