It’s just another day at the office for London book editor Samantha “Sam” Clair. Checking jacket copy for howlers, wondering how to break it to her star novelist that her latest effort is utterly unpublishable, lunch scheduled with gossipy author Kit Lowell, whose new book will dish the juicy dirt on a recent fashion industry scandal. Little does she know the trouble Kit’s book will cause – before it even goes to print.
When Police Inspector Field turns up at the venerable offices of Timmins & Ross, asking questions about a package addressed to Sam, she knows something is wrong. Now, Sam’s nine-to-five life is turned upside down as she finds herself propelled into a criminal investigation. Someone doesn’t want Kit’s manuscript published, and unless Sam can put the pieces together in time, they’ll do anything to stop it.
With this deliciously funny debut novel, acclaimed author Judith Flanders introduces readers to an enormously enjoyable, too-clever-for-her-own-good new amateur sleuth, as well as Sam’s Goth assistant, her effortlessly glamorous mother, and the handsome Inspector Field.
A Murder of Magpies was a really funny and relaxing read. What made this cozy mystery stand out for me was its unique protagonist, Sam Clair. Now, Sam isn’t your usual detective. Not one bit. She’s a 40-something book editor who’s not afraid to ask all the right questions to some very wrong people. I just loved her independence and intelligence, and her witty, highly sarcastic commentary made me laugh out loud for a great part of the book.
While the character of Sam made the book very enjoyable, I couldn’t really bring myself to care all that much about the rest of the characters. Actually, most of the time, to me they just felt as “fillers”, like they were there just because they were supposed to be. I also wasn’t overly keen on the romance. I saw it coming pretty early on, and so I was more or less just waiting to see how it would develop. Unfortunately, when it did develop, I just couldn’t feel it. To me, the whole thing felt slightly rushed and a little forced.
As for the mystery itself, I was surprised by the solution, even though I had a lot of trouble bringing myself to care about it at all. Now, mystery lovers may disagree with me, but while I was very intrigued at the beginning, I gradually lost interest. The mystery just became too complicated for me to follow, and I gave up even trying to guess ‘who did it’. Even though I really appreciated all the research the author clearly did to make the work stand, all the details about corporate finances and frauds that surround the primary investigation made this mystery slightly too heavy and hard for me to follow.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a bad book at all. I really enjoyed reading it, and its incredibly amusing main character really made it worth it. If you’re looking for a cozy mystery that will make you laugh like crazy, then I think you’ll probably enjoy this book.