Book Reviews

The Word is Murder

Author: Anthony Horowitz
Published: June 5, 2018 by Harper
Genre: Mystery / Crime Fiction
Hardcover: 400 pages
My Rating: 4 stars

New York Times bestselling author of Magpie Murders and Moriarty, Anthony Horowitz has yet again brilliantly reinvented the classic crime novel, this time writing a fictional version of himself as the Watson to a modern-day Holmes.

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 at 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.

This author always writes fiction in a totally new, and unique way. In Magpie Murders which was one of my favorite books of 2017, he wrote a book within a book. The fictional author in that story dies unexpectedly before his manuscript is finished. As his publisher is reading his last manuscript, you as the reader are too. We then start to see parallels between the fictionalized manuscript and the author’s real life, and it becomes clear that in solving one of the mysteries, we will be solving both. You can read my full review of Magpie Murders HERE.

In his latest, The Word is Murder, he throws standard fiction on it’s head again by inserting himself in the story. It’s a work of fiction, but it reads like nonfiction because the narrator of the story is Anthony Horowitz himself. A former detective hires Horowitz in ‘real life’ to write about him and the case he’s been hired to investigate. As a reader, I enjoyed being privy to the thought process of a writer. The book shines a light on the gaping difference between what a real detective does, and what an author does when writing about a detective and a murder case. The detective and the writer were at constant odds about what to include in the story because it actually happened, and how the writer wants to embellish things to make for a better story. We get an inside look at the intricacies of plotting a novel. I loved the characters in this book, too. The detective and the author are like water and oil together and it was amusing to read.

The story itself is a classic whodunnit and nothing makes me happier than a classic whodunnit. The clues are all laid expertly and in the end you’ll see how brilliantly plotted it all was. I can’t wait to see what Horowitz does next.

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