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A MURDER OF MAGPIES by Judith Flanders: Book Review

Flat out, I must say this is a totally engaging book!

I googled the word for a group of magpies, and murder is one of them, along with tiding and gulp The last two names are interesting, but how much better murder works with a mystery!

Samantha Clair is an editor at a London publishing house, hoping to release a book by one of her favorite authors, Kit Lovell.  He is a fashion writer and, according to Sam, “the best gossip on the planet.”

Kit’s writings have never caused a problem before, but this tell-all story is different.  The subject of his manuscript is Rodrigo Alemán, Spain’s world-famous fashion designer.  In addition to the very public wild parties Rodrigo hosted and the over-the-top life he led, there was a private side uncovered by Kit that is the crux of his book.

According to Kit, “everyone” has agreed that Rodrigo was murdered, everyone except his family, the Vernet fashion house he worked for, and the French police, who went along with the cover-up because of the pressure the House of Vernet put on them.  But Kit has proof, he tells Sam, that Rodrigo’s murder was an organized crime affair, probably resulting from the information that Kit discovered about the firm’s money laundering.  So, after Sam sends the manuscript to her legal team for a reading and gets their okay that it isn’t libelous, she plans to publish the book.

But then Sam’s flat is burglarized, the motorcycle messenger thought to be bringing the hard copy of the manuscript to her is killed by a hit-and-run driver, Kit doesn’t show up for an important meeting, and she’s unable to reach him after numerous attempts.  All this brings in the police, in the person of Inspector Jacob Field.  Sam’s concerns about the missing Kit escalate, and she begins to investigate the charges he made in his manuscript about Rodrigo and the House of Vernet.

A Murder of Magpies has two wonderful main characters.  First there’s Sam, a forty-year-old woman content to stay single until her meetings with Jacob get more and more interesting.  Sam’s mother Helena, a top barrister, is another terrific creation.  In a great role reversal, here it is the mother who is dynamic, energetic, sexy, and a force to be reckoned with.

Perhaps it is this very list of attributes that has made Sam more reserved, a woman who is content to blend into the background, whether at a meeting of colleagues and in her choice of clothes, which are white, black, and gray.  Every other color is too bright for her, she thinks, and may cause people to look at her.  As Sam puts it, when she’s with her mother she’s “awed into silent astonishment that we could be even distantly related.”

Judith Flanders’ A Murder of Magpies is a fun read, a fact which doesn’t take away from the mystery to be solved.  I hope that there’ll be more mysteries featuring Samantha Clair and her friends to follow.

You can read more about Judith Flanders at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.




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