Anthony Horowitz is back Moonflower Murders, another Sue Ryland mystery

A detail of the cover of Anthony Horowitz's Moonflower Murders. Picture: Supplied
A detail of the cover of Anthony Horowitz's Moonflower Murders. Picture: Supplied
  • Moonflower Murders, by Anthony Horowitz. Century. $32.99.

Anthony Horowitz is a prolific and talented writer and screenwriter, best known for his long running Alex Rider series for young readers, two James Bond thrillers, Trigger Mortis and Forever and a Day, as well as screenplays for TV's Poirot, Midsummer Murders and Foyle's War.

Moonflower Murders is the sequel to his successful Magpie Murders (2016) and sees the return of his detective Sue Ryland.

She has left her editing position in a major publishing house in London and relocated to Crete with her Greek boyfriend, Andreas, to run a small hotel.

However, life in Agios Nikolaos is not the idyll she had hoped for and their relationship is suffering under mounting debts. Sue is "thinking about a way out" even if she isn't "actively looking for one".

And then the wealthy Trehernes arrive, with a story of the murder, eight years earlier, of Frank Parris at their Suffolk hotel Branlow Hall, on the wedding day of their daughter, Cecily. Stefan Codrescu, a Romanian maintenance man confessed to Parris' murder and is in jail.

However author Alan Conway, after a brief stay at Branlow Hall, believed he had identified the real murderer and subsequently seeds clues in his novel, Atticus Pund Takes the Case.

Cecily, after reading Atticus Pund, believes she too has unravelled the clues. She then mysteriously disappears.

Alan Conway died in Magpie Murders, so the Trehernes offer Sue Ryland, who knew Conway better than anyone and edited his books, £10,000 to return to England.

She realises this sum will enable her to clear her debts, and hopes she will be able to track down the murderer and solve the mystery of Cecily's disappearance.

Little does she realise this investigative path will place her in mortal danger.

Horowitz encourages his readers to investigate the mystery themselves by including Conway's novel within his own - a book within a book- creating a 600-page reading challenge.

Horowitz has said that his two Sue Ryland mysteries were "unintentional".

He had set out to write a book about writing.

"After one chapter I realised it was boring and egotistical and just bad. So I began to think, how can I do a book about writing, but in a different way.

"So I decided to do it in fiction, and that's where I came up with the idea of the book in the book".

Not surprisingly, Horowitz succeeds in creating two completely different writing styles, although the Conway novel set in 1953 is the more enjoyable of the two, capturing the world and atmosphere that Agatha Christie made her own.

This story A clever and highly readable English murder mystery first appeared on The Canberra Times.