Book Review: A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders

A Murder of Magpies
Judith Flanders

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Samantha Clair, an editor at Timmons and Ross, has a hot manuscript in her hands. The author is fashion journalist Kit Lovell and he’s about to expose the French couture house of Vernet in his new book, The Gilded Life and Tarnished Death of Rodrigo Alemán. Alemán is the company’s former CEO, now deceased under questionable circumstances. In the manuscript, Lovell claims Vernet has been involved in money laundering and worse.

The story begins when the bicycle courier delivering the manuscript to Timmons and Ross is killed in a hit and run. When Lovell is robbed and disappears and Samantha’s London apartment is mysteriously searched, Sam finds herself in the middle of an investigation. She teams up with Inspector Jacob Field and calls upon her mother, Helena, a powerful solicitor, to solve the hit and run and find Lovell.

Though not a detective, Sam plunges into the sometimes-dangerous investigation, often without Jake’s knowledge. And once they start digging, they discover a much more involved system of crimes with many players. Flanders introduces several mysterious characters, including Sam’s upstairs neighbor, the retired Pavel Rudiger, who never leaves his apartment, and an unnamed lurker who seems to be following Sam. Sam also meets more than a dozen others, including professors, editors, and a crew of solicitors from various firms.

Sam must also tend to problems at the office. Most important is figuring out what to do with one of her authors, the possibly over-the-hill chick-lit writer Breda McManus, whose new manuscript reads like a clunker. Flanders gives readers an amusing look into the publishing business and its politics, one of the stronger parts of the story.

After a complicated middle, Flanders introduces additional characters who quickly push the story to a neatly tied-up finish, solving both the mystery of Lovell’s disappearance and the crimes associated with Vernet.

I thought this story was okay, but felt the crime plot was unnecessarily complicated and a little hard to follow. There’s also an awkwardness between characters and maybe that’s because A Murder of Magpies is the first in the mystery series and readers don’t know them yet. That said, I liked several of the side characters and would like to see them in future stories. In addition, the suggestion of a future romance in Helena’s life would make for some interesting subplots.

So just an average mystery, but with the promise of better stories and characters as they develop. There are three more books in the Sam Clair series. You can learn more about them here.

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25 thoughts on “Book Review: A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders

    1. It’s gotten some high-up endorsements – Louise Penny for one. Our book group felt the same way. But we think future books would be better. Thanks, Books and Bakes!

    1. Oh thank you, Donna. That means a lot because it’s very hard to be publicly critical of a book. Years ago, you could say to a friend you didn’t like the book, but now with everything online, you have to be more careful about how you say things. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

    1. Hi Jill – yes our book group all agreed that the plot became unnecessarily complicated. I know what you mean about the R&R time. Thank you for reading and commenting. I hope you are doing well and that your wrist is improving.

      1. Both HUBs and I are well – our second vaccine shot is next week. Then another four weeks of sequestering and we will be ready to re-enter the world, with precautions. How’s by you?

  1. I’m glad to have read your review! I think I DNFd this book a few years ago (I didn’t read much, and the opening few chapters just didn’t grab me), so it’s nice to find out more about what I missed. 🙂

    1. Hi Lisa – I had not heard of this book, but our mystery book group selected it. I do like the cover and think the series has hope. Just too complicated and awkward in the first one. Sadly, I’m not sure I’ll try out the next one, because there are so many other books I want to read. Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

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