The Susan Ryeland series, a smart Whodunnit by Anthony Horowitz

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A mystery series with two whodunnits in each book, the Susan Ryeland series is a fun work of Meta Fiction for all amateurs of the genre written by Anthony Horowitz.

The Susan Ryeland Book Series: Reading Guide

The Susan Reyland series will be a trilogy. For the moment, only two books have been released:

Magpie Murders (2016)
Moonflower Murders (2020)
– A third novel has been announced, but no release date yet!

About Magpie Murders and its sequels

The synopsis of Magpie Murders


Meet our heroine: London-based editor Susan Ryeland. She received the manuscript for the latest novel featuring detective Atticus Pünd from best-selling author Alan Conway. She soon sees that the final chapter is missing. Not long after, she discovers that Alan Conway died in an apparent suicide by falling from his mansion’s tower. Then a suicide note from Conway is delivered to her office. Even so, Susan has some suspicions and starts to research Conway’s death to learn the truth and locate the manuscript’s last chapter.

Who killed Alan Conway and who is the murderer in his last Atticus Pünd book? The story offers two mysteries for the price of one! 

Deconstructing a genre

Writer Anthony Horowitz chose to use the story within a story format for this series as a way to explore the whole genre of the murder mystery. The formula is introduced in the first novel, Magpie Murders, and is used again in the sequel, Moonflowers Murders.

That way, the series blends classic detective fiction and modern-day murder mystery. The story deconstructs the cozy mystery genre with the Atticus Pünd books, being in the vein of a classic Agatha Christie novel while Susan’s investigations and her portrayal represent the less cozy and modern side of the genre.

While exploring the genre, the books also deliver insights into the creative process, how the writer came up with their ideas, and how the story takes shape to give us a good murder mystery!

More about Magpie Murders

Adaptation

Anthony Horowitz adapted Magpie Murders into a six-part drama series, which aired on PBS in the United States and Britbox in the United Kingdom before being acquired by the BBC. Go watch it, it’s fantastic!

The series stars Lesley Manville as Susan Ryeland, Conleth Hill as Alan Conway, and Tim McMullan as Atticus Pünd. A sequel adapting Moonflower Murders has been confirmed and should premiere in 2024.

About Anthony Horowitz

Anthony Horowitz (born 5 April 1955) is a British author and television writer best known for his work in the mystery and thriller genres, as well as his children’s novels.

He has written nearly 50 books, including the popular Alex Rider series, The Power of Five series (known as The Gatekeepers in the United States), and The Diamond Brothers series.

Adult readers may be better familiar with Horowitz for his contributions to established brands, having written Sherlock Holmes books supported by the Conan Doyle Estate and James Bond novels commissioned by the Ian Fleming Estate. He also created the Hawthorne and Horowitz series, which was told by a fictionalized version of himself, and, of course, the Susan Ryeland series.

In addition to his literary endeavors, Horowitz also works for television. He has written for popular shows like Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Midsomer Murders and has also created and written series such as Foyle’s War, Collision, Injustice, and New Blood for ITV and the BBC.