Thursday, 10 January 2019

Book Review: THE WORD IS MURDER by Anthony Horowitz

Author: Anthony Horowitz
Read: January 2019
Published: 2018
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Book Description:

One bright spring morning in London, Diana Cowper – the wealthy mother of a famous actor - enters a funeral parlor. She is there to plan her own service.

Six hours later she is found dead, strangled with a curtain cord in her own home.

Enter disgraced police detective Daniel Hawthorne, a brilliant, eccentric investigator who’s as quick with an insult as he is to crack a case. Hawthorne needs a ghost writer to document his life; a Watson to his Holmes. He chooses Anthony Horowitz.

Drawn in against his will, Horowitz soon finds himself a the center of a story he cannot control. Hawthorne is brusque, temperamental and annoying but even so his latest case with its many twists and turns proves irresistible. The writer and the detective form an unusual partnership. At the same time, it soon becomes clear that Hawthorne is hiding some dark secrets of his own.

A masterful and tricky mystery that springs many surprises, The Word is Murder is Anthony Horowitz at his very best.

My musings:

I had heard a lot of good things about The Word is Murder, and after reading it, I know why! This is one very clever mystery, in which the author inserts himself as a sidekick to his fictional detective solving the murder case. Fictional or not? To be honest, I was never quite sure. Were the people Horowitz describes in his books real life characters, or figments of his imagination? This constant pondering was one of my favourite things whilst reading the novel, the best kind of guessing game.

Apart from Horowitz starring in his own novel, the story is written very much in the vein of an old-fashioned whodunit. If you like classic detective and sidekick pairings, like Christie’s Captain Hastings and Detective Poirot or Sherlock Homes and Dr Watson, then you will most likely appreciate Horowitz’ love-hate partnership with Hawthorne. He is as prickly as he is smart, and his observation skills are second to none. There are plenty of clues strewn into the story that will please any die-hard armchair detective, and the absence of “the killer twist you will never see coming” was quite a refreshing change from my recent fare of psychological thriller that all tried to outdo each other in that department. I’m not saying that there weren’t any red herrings or surprises, just that we could generally trust the narrator to tell the truth and let us in on the clues as they come his way and allow us to do some sleuthing. I love that, and I admire the skill with which Horowitz has carved himself a unique niche in a genre oversaturated with books that follow a similar pattern.

The prickly Hawthorne is so elusive with information about his personal life that he is setting himself up as the perfect character to lead many more mysteries, in which we will hopefully get to unpeel a few layers and find out some juicy facts about the man. I for one am thoroughly intrigued by him, and very curious! Horowitz, on the other hand, was refreshingly forthcoming with facts about his life as a writer, though of course the line between fact and fiction was never properly drawn, so I’m not sure about his actual reality. His writing style flows well with the ease of the seasoned writer he is, and his wicked sense of humour shines through the pages in his characters and small puns strewn in amongst the mystery’s clues, often just as cleverly disguised that I guffawed when my own dull wit finally caught on. 


All in all, this was a thoroughly entertaining read disguised as a classical whodunit  that will test your own sleuthing skills. I must admit that I miserably failed in that department and would have evoked a scornful snort by  from Hawthorne, if he would be gracious enough to acknowledge my presence at all. Probably not.

Very highly recommended! I look forward to picking up the next book in the series, The Sentence is Death.

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