Moonflower Murders Discussion Journal

This month, we read a more traditional mystery – Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz. Moonflower Murders is not exactly traditional. It is two books in one. The fictional detective starts her investigation and then on page 227 of the novel, she starts to read the fictional novel, Atticus Pünd Takes the Case, complete with cover, blurbs and copyright page. Several members commented how odd/annoying it was to be reading along and suddenly find yourself reading a totally different book! MoonflowerMurdersMuch of the fun in reading the book is in trying to solve the mysteries, so I will avoid spoilers if I can. And since most of us do not read the classic whodunnits, we weren’t able to discuss how successful it was within that genre.

We still found plenty to discuss. A couple of us didn’t finish the book—one of us because he was bored to tears! Another said that it was a terrible idea to have to read a second book. Others said they liked it, but they were still critical of plot points and uncertain about other details. In this age of authenticity, someone asked if we were okay reading a book with a female lead written by a man? We were. What did we think about the author’s treatment of homosexual characters? Most of them were unlikeable—but then, everyone in the book was unlikeable! We did like the detective, Susan Ryeland. Why didn’t people like Romanians? Which lead to a short but interesting sidebar on gypsies, Eastern Europeans, immigration and economics.

We noted that the inner book was written in a different style, which impressed us. Horowitz brought our attention to different media and authors, to name just a few: Dial M for Murder, Chronicles of Narnia, Casablanca, The Marriage of Figaro, Dickens, Smollett, Margaret Attwood, Byron, Chekhov, The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death (dioramas). He made us think about writing in general, which was part of the author’s intent.[i]

Anthony Horowitz first came to my attention as the author of the Alex Rider series featuring a teen James Bond-type character. He created and wrote the BBC television series Foyle’s War and was commissioned to write two Sherlock Holmes novels and more James Bond novels.[ii] If you don’t want to read the books, you can get the Magpie Murders television adaptation on dvd through the library. Moonflower Murders should follow as soon as it is available on dvd!

On his website, Horowitz answers the question “Who or what inspires you: Everything, really. Everywhere I look, everyone I meet. I love walking my dog in Suffolk along the River Alde and I find the landscape and the huge skies endlessly inspiring. As I walk, I think of the ideas I’ve had and turn them over in my head. That’s when I’m at my happiest.”[iii]

I hope you are inspired and happy to keep reading with us – even if you can’t finish every book. And share with us other things you do and read.

  • Other Works Discussed:
  • Agatha Christie
  • “Paul’s Case: a study in temperament” (1905) Short Story by Willa Cather[iv]

[i] Susan Ryeland, as an editor, draws attention to the process of publishing/editing as well as tropes and techniques. An interesting excerpt from the novel in which Susan Ryeland answers a question:

“Are all writers like that? Stealing things from the world around them?”

“Every writer is different,” [Susan Ryeland said]. “But they don’t steal exactly. They absorb. It’s such a strange profession, really, living in a sort of twilight between the world they belong to and the world they create.” (Moonflower Murders page 127)




From McClure’s Magazine, 25 (May 1905):  74-83.