I began to take stock. A roaring headache, but no blinding lights, no fuzzy vision. I probably wasn’t concussed, but checking was reasonable enough, even though I didn’t want to be reasonable. I wanted to bite somebody.
London book editor Samantha (Sam) Clair doesn’t have time to be tied up in a criminal investigation. Her immediate to-do list is fully packed: read proofs, approve marketing copy, make it to a weekly progress meeting on time, and figure out how to tactfully tell the publishing firm’s star author that her latest manuscript is unreadable instead of unputdownable. So when Inspector Jake Field shows up at her office with questions about a dead bicycle courier, she isn’t the least bit interested. Not until her favorite gossip and good friend, Kit Lovell, goes missing, and it looks increasingly likely that his unpublished manuscript on a fashion industry scandal is the reason. A manuscript, it appears, the courier was on his way to deliver to Sam when he met his unfortunate demise. When the police seem more interested in investigating the people mentioned in the manuscript than finding Kit, Sam starts her own investigation to find out what happened to her friend.
- Flanders has built an intriguing character with Sam. She’s stubborn, snarky, and smart. She’s also insecure, perfectly happy to be on her own, and completely loyal to those she considers family. I have a feeling Sam might be a character you either love wholeheartedly or hate; personally, I adore her.
- It is easy to be sucked in to the narrative. Sam’s tone is delightfully droll from the very first page, where she describes some of the more mundane things an editor must know: “how to find reliable proofreaders, what was done on that three-for-two promotion in 2010 and why it failed miserably, and even how to sweet-talk a recalcitrant designer into designing our book jackets instead of tweeting clips of his cat being adorable.”
A hefty amount of legal mumbo jumbo could cost Flanders some readers, and an abrupt romance (when, exactly, did Sam and Jake develop feelings for each other?) seems more obligatory than organic. Still, A Murder of Magpies is a whole lot of fun. Sam’s biting personality is refreshing and the narrative is (mostly) zippy with a good dose of witty dialogue.
Also Recommended: Flanders previous works have been historical studies of the Victorian era. One that I particularly enjoyed was The Invention of Murder, a detailed exploration of murder in England during this time. The material Flanders covers in it is fascinating.
Recommended for readers who enjoy brilliantly blunt protagonists with a touch of bravado.
* I received a free copy of this eBook from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.