Friday, August 7, 2020

Moonflower Murders cover
Susan Ryeland is at a bit of a crossroads.  After leaving her career in publishing to run a hotel in Crete with her boyfriend, she has reached the realization that running the hotel might be more trouble than it’s worth. Her relationship is also somewhat in a holding pattern. So it is fortunate for her that a couple, the Trehernes, offer her £10,000 to return to England to investigate the disappearance of their daughter Cecily.  Susan isn’t a private investigator, but she has some connection to the Trehernes.  One of her former clients, the now-deceased writer Alan Conway, had written a book about a murder that took place 8 years previously at a country hotel owned by the Trehernes.  The murder happened on the wedding day of their daughter Cecily, and one of the hotel workers had been convicted of the murder.  Now, all these years later, Cecily called her parents with the news that the wrong man had been convicted of the murder, and that the clue to the real murderer was in the fictional book written about the case.  Soon afterwards, she disappeared.  The Trehernes have nowhere else to turn, and beg Susan to follow Alan Conway’s clues in the book to uncover the mystery of what happened to their daughter.  Eager for an escape and needing the money for her floundering hotel, Susan is only too happy to temporarily return to England where distance will also hopefully help to clarify her own personal issues as well.

Once at the hotel, Susan is met by mostly hostile and suspicious people – all of whom are potential suspects in both the original murder of the guest, and the more recent disappearance of Cecily.  After questioning various people in an attempt to get some background on Cecily, Susan decides to re-read Atticus Pünd Takes the Case, the book which Cecily was convinced revealed the real murderer.  So in the middle of the story, we are suddenly switched to the fictional book based on the murder.  In the fictionalized account, a famous Hollywood actress has returned to her homeland of England and purchased a country hotel, where she is found murdered.  There is no shortage of suspects, and when the police are stumped, the detective Atticus Pünd is brought in to see if he can get to the bottom of the case.  Of course he eventually solves this case (and we are also given a rather lengthy description of the most famous case that he solved), but even after finishing the story, Susan is no further along in figuring out what the book has to do with her own current mystery.

Eventually, both Atticus and Susan call together all their suspects and point out the reasons each would have for committing the crimes, as well as why they were all innocent – except for when the true culprits are exposed.  Once Susan’s crime is solved, she goes back over the original book and points out the many clues that had been included in the text – none of which I picked up on!

I enjoyed reading this story a great deal, both because of the Agatha Christie overtones, and the fact that you get a second mystery right in the middle of the main book!  While I did feel that Atticus Pünd’s story was much more interesting (there were many more twist and turns than there were in Susan’s story), I did love seeing all the clues pointed out at the end.

Disclaimer:  I received a digital advanced reader's copy of Moonflower Murders from NetGalley in exchange for this review

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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