Horowitz has quite the résumé. He wrote for Poirot, created two successful TV shows (Foyle’s War and Midsomer Murders), was selected by the Arthur Conan Doyle estate to write two Sherlock Holmes novels, was selected by the Ian Fleming estate to write three James Bond novels, and wrote a bestselling teen spy series (Alex Rider).
The problem with doing the story within a story is that the reader will prefer one story to the other.
I guessed the Ryeland mystery correctly. I did not figure out the Pünd mystery, but I thought it worked wonderfully.
Pünd comes across as an imitation of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot with none of the charm or personality. I imagine this was intentionally done considering the picture Horowitz paints of Alan Conway.
Despite Ryeland’s disapproval of Conway’s use of anagrams and Easter eggs, I quite enjoyed them (outside of the distasteful origin of Pünd’s name, but again, that’s the point). I don’t think they “cheapen the writing” at all. The more little puzzles, the better. It only becomes a problem when Easter eggs and references are employed in lieu of a good story (cough Disney cough).
Horowitz’s ability to write a classic whodunit reminiscent of the Golden Age of murder mysteries and a modern mystery crime thriller all in the same book is very impressive. I prefer the puzzle-solving of a classic whodunit to the theatrics of a modern thriller.