Whodunit? 3 compelling new murder mysteries — all with something you didn’t see coming

Each of these three murder mysteries — two are debut novels — pulled critic Moira Macdonald into another world.

“You must know that feeling when it’s raining outside and the heating’s on and you lose yourself, utterly, in a book. You read and you read and you feel the pages slipping through your fingers until suddenly there are fewer in your right hand than there are in your left, and you want to slow down but you still hurtle on toward a conclusion you can hardly bear to discover. That is the particular power of the whodunit which has, I think, a special place within the general panoply of literary fiction because, of all characters, the detective enjoys a particular, indeed a unique relationship with the reader.”

— “Magpie Murders,” by Anthony Horowitz

 

Whodunits, detective novels, crime fiction, murder mysteries … whatever you want to call it, it’s a genre irresistible to many of us. Though I suspect I would be a very bad detective in real life — I’m not fond of the sight of blood, I don’t have the patience for the minutiae of clue-gathering, and my wardrobe lacks a decent trenchcoat — I love to let myself become one in fiction. Three compelling murder mysteries, all with a twist, crossed my desk in recent weeks; each one pulled me into another world.

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“Why do English villages lend themselves so well to murder?” wonders a narrator in Anthony Horowitz’s delicious “Magpie Murders” (Harper Collins, $27.99). She quickly answers herself — it’s because “in small, rural communities everyone knows everyone, making it so much easier to create suspects and, for that matter, people to suspect them.” And because — at least in fiction — such villages are populated with the sort of eccentrics who make for page-turning reading.

Half of “Magpie Murders” is a classic English-village murder mystery, set in the 1950s and…

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