THE WORD IS MURDER
By Anthony Horowitz
Harper (June 5, 2018)
Kindle edition: $12.99
by Larry Jung
A new whodunit by veteran mystery and TV writer Anthony Horowitz.
Horowitz has crafted a whodunit that will delight fans of the ingenious plots of Agatha Christie, but with a twist. The narrator is none other than Anthony Horowitz himself.
Diana Cowper, a well-to-do lady, is found murdered in her upscale London flat. She has been strangled by a cord used to hold open the curtains in her living room. The police quickly determine that burglary was not the motive, though an unconvincing attempt at pulling open drawers and such was made. Clearly murder was the motive. But what takes this murder out-of-the ordinary and has the police calling in a special consultant is that Diana Cowper six hours before made meticulous arrangements for her own funeral. Also, she is the mother of a famous actor, and she is active in London’s theater world.
Enter ex-London police detective Daniel Hawthorne. He is a later-day Sherlock Holmes: keen senses, extraordinary powers of deduction, obsessive in solving the crime. But Hawthorne is abrasive, arrogant, distant, and emotionally cold. He has no friends. No one, especially the police, wants to work with him despite Hawthorne’s talent.
Anthony Horowitz had, at best, an uneasy time when Hawthorne was a consultant on a TV series Horowitz was writing scripts for. Horowitz admits Hawthorne made significant contributions to add authenticity to the police work in the stories, but the working relationship between Horowitz and Hawthorne was all Hawthorne’s way. Now Hawthorne has phoned Horowitz because the former needs a writer to write a book about Hawthorne’s current investigation of the Diana Cowper murder. Reluctantly Horowitz agrees to a meeting with Hawthorne and, in the end, accepts writing a true-crime account about Daniel Hawthorne.
Soon Horowitz is immersed in a world where it seems everyone is playing a role like an actor in a play. Even Horowitz. He questions his own motives in agreeing to be Watson to Hawthorne’s Holmes.
The investigation of Diana Cowper leads Horowitz and Hawthorne into the London theatrical world that was her life. The people they meet are used to playing roles for a living and are good at presenting a mask to the world. It will take all of Hawthorne’s detective skills and brilliance to get at the truth.
THE WORD IS MURDER is an engaging whodunit with plenty of red herrings and tantalizing clues for the mystery aficionado. The mystery is an epicenter of rejection, misery, regret, and obsession that ripples out to reveal long hidden secrets. I most enjoyed getting glimpses into the life and craft of Anthony Horowitz. It was a chance to hang out with a writer whose works I have enjoyed for a long time. Throughout the book, Horowitz tells us how he goes about writing a book (it takes about a year), coming up with plots, writing for TV, research, and breaking out into fiction for adults. Horowitz makes it look so easy to create characters, vividly describe locations, and capture the atmosphere and mood of 21st century London.And if that is not enough to want to read THE WORD IS MURDER, Anthony Horowitz lays down a challenge to the readers: there is a clue in the first chapter that clearly identifies the killer.
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