Author: Anthony Horowitz
Published: April 2018 by Arrow
Category: Murder, Mystery, Crime, Book Review
SHE PLANNED HER OWN FUNERAL. BUT DID SHE ARRANGE HER OWN MURDER?
Daniel Hawthorne, a recalcitrant detective with secrets of his own, is on the case, together with his reluctant side-kick – a man completely unaccustomed to the world of crime.
But even Hawthorne isn’t prepared for the twists and turns in store – as unexpected as they are bloody…
How refreshing to read an inventive and unusual take on a murder mystery. Anthony Horowitz creates a fictionalised version of himself, portrayed as side kick to Daniel Hawthorne, an ex Detective Inspector who used to be with the Metropolitan Police Force.
Despite being ‘let go’ Hawthorne still works for the police in an unofficial capacity as a consultant. He approaches Horowitz with a view to him writing a book, shadowing Hawthorne on his latest case and putting it all into a story, believing he would make a great central character.
The story begins as Diana Cowper, mother of a famous actor, visits an undertaker in order to plan her funeral down to last detail. The strange thing is she’s found murdered just six hours later, strangled in her own home. Hawthorne is investigating and Horowitz tags along, writing the story around him as it plays out while adding details of his own life and career. I haven’t read anything quite like this before and passages about his books, TV shows and dealings with his agent are recounted with self-deprecating humour.
‘I want you to write about me.’
Every time I met him, Hawthorne had a way of surprising me. You know where you are with most people. You form a relationship, you get to know them, and after that the rules are more or less set. But it was never like that with him. He had this strange, mercurial quality. Just when I though I knew where we were going, he would somehow prove me wrong.
‘What do you mean? I asked.
‘I want you to write a book about me.’
‘Why would I want to do that?’
‘You want to pay me?’
’No. I thought we’d go fifty-fifty.’
The Word Is Murder was included in one of the book boxes I received as Christmas gifts and I thoroughly enjoyed it. An entertaining twist on a murder/mystery. Horowitz and Hawthorne have an uneasy relationship as Hawthorne is grumpy and temperamental, keeping his own counsel and revealing nothing of his personal life, despite Horowitz’s attempts to draw him out. He often leaves Horowitz feeling inadequate when he makes suggestions or attempts to become involved in the investigation. The dialogue and banter between them is fun to read and Horowitz is more often than not left exasperated, finding Hawthorne’s general attitude objectionable.
This unique approach gives a realism to the story, almost as if it’s fact rather than fiction. Narrated in the first person by Horowitz, he remarks he wouldn’t have chosen Hawthorne as a protagonist if he were writing an original murder/mystery.
Lines are blurred as truth and fiction are merged so seamlessly in this extremely well written and characterised, sometimes dark, story. The plot is well constructed, with enough twists to keep it moving at a pace. Hawthorne, despite his lack of mostly all the social graces, is an intriguing protagonist. For all that they clash, Horowitz seems to find him intriguing as well, and respects Hawthorne’s perceptive unraveling of clues. Horowitz puts it very succinctly when he remarks that Hawthorne has ‘a magnetic personality, Although, of course, magnets can repel as well as attract.’ That seems to sum up their partnership perfectly. Looking forward to Hawthorne #2.
About the Author
Anthony Horowitz, OBE is ranked alongside Enid Blyton and Mark A. Cooper as “The most original and best spy-kids authors of the century.” (New York Times). Anthony has been writing since the age of eight, and professionally since the age of twenty. In addition to the highly successful Alex Rider books, he is also the writer and creator of award winning detective series Foyle’s War, and more recently event drama Collision, among his other television works he has written episodes for Poirot, Murder in Mind, Midsomer Murders and Murder Most Horrid. Anthony became patron to East Anglia Children’s Hospices in 2009.
On 19 January 2011, the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle announced that Horowitz was to be the writer of a new Sherlock Holmes novel, the first such effort to receive an official endorsement from them and to be entitled the House of Silk.