A Murder of Magpies is a mystery filled with satirical humor about the book publishing industry and its culture. The novel is filled with legal issues, corporate fraud, social mannerisms, and roles in society along with multiple twists.
This story follows Sam Clair, who describes herself as a mildly successful, middle-aged book editor at Timmins and Ross. While having to figure out how to make Breda McManus’ (her star author) book enjoyable, she must deal with solicitors and legal proceedings related to her friend’s new book. Her friend, fashion journalist Kit Lovell, has written a book exposing the secrets of the fashion industry, the death of Rodrigo Aleman, a designer, and the concealment of illegally obtained money.
After a burglary, a courier’s death in a hit and run accident, and Kit’s disappearance, Sam finds herself involved in finding her missing friend where she feels the perpetrator is after the information in the manuscript being published. She must navigate the world of fashion, gossiping literary agents, law firms, and solicitors with the help of a detective, her assistant, and her mother.
This novel is told in first person through the main protagonist, Sam, who uses her sarcasm, cynicism and satirical manner to drive her interactions, opinions, and perceptions. Sam focuses on the politics of her book publishing agency, office work, and the routines of her job, which is very informative for those interested in the publishing world. The reader learns about the editor-author relationship through Sam’s careful handling of Breda’s book as she strives to maintain a decade long partnership. Sam’s relationship with her mother and upstairs neighbor adds character development and likeable relationships in the novel.
Throughout the novel, gender roles play a huge part in power struggles within the workplace and mannerisms in the treatment of one another, making this as much of a mystery novel as social commentary. The concept of beauty and “coolness” in high society is another factor. The author creates a protagonist that clashes with the fashion world and high society very well.
This novel should not be read quickly if the reader wants to understand all the key elements. There are legal terms and a multitude of law companies and characters connected to different industries that are mentioned – sometimes briefly. This makes it hard for the reader to follow the fashion and law backgrounds unless they already have insight into those industries. Descriptions are excessively used to prepare the setting; however, it slows the pace of the novel. The pace quickens near the end as multiple twists are uncovered and Sam becomes more aggressive in her actions to find her friend.
People who enjoy social satires, humor, mysteries, and an in-depth outlook on the book publishing industry will appreciate this novel.
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