I’ve not read many novels by Anthony Horowitz, but I really enjoyed Magpie Murders and I’ve been looking forward to reading his latest offering, The Word is Murder, since its publication last year.
It opens with Diana Cowper entering a funeral parlour and arranging, right down to the very last detail, her own funeral. Six hours later, she is murdered – strangled in her own home.
Was she afraid? Did she feel as though she was in danger?
Or is it merely coincidence?
I’ve been deliberately brief in the synopsis, as it would be easy to give too much away, and if the idea of a woman being murdered within hours of arranging her own funeral doesn’t hook you in, I’m not sure that this is the book for you.
The Word is Murder may sound like a fairly standard police procedural, and yet it is anything but, as Diana’s death is investigated by former Detective Daniel Hawthorne, assisted by Anthony Horowitz. Yes – the same Anthony Horowitz whose name appears on the cover of the book. I felt that this gave the novel an intriguing twist, and whilst you might think that appearing in your own novel is the sign of an ego, it didn’t come across that way to me, particularly as the role Horowitz casts himself in is one of hanging off Hawthorne’s coattails.
I had allowed myself to become a silent partner, a minor character in my own book!
Hawthorne, on the other hand, is portrayed as a brilliant, if irascible, detective, with powers of deduction and an eye for detail to rival Sherlock Holmes. He is not what you’d call a people person, however, and isn’t at all bothered about imposing himself on others. He either isn’t aware that he’s doing it, or he simply doesn’t care – I strongly suspect the latter. I loved the awkward relationship between “Tony” and Hawthorne which allows for some amusing scenes, and his appearance in his own novel allows Horowitz to comment upon the difficulties faced by writers whilst simultaneously dealing with them.
The trouble was, I didn’t like him very much and that made the book almost impossible to write. The relationship between an author and his main protagonist is a very peculiar one.
I’ve been deliberately light on the story itself, but The Word is Murder builds upon its excellent premise and delivers an incredibly complicated plot which I was immediately caught up in. The clues were there but the ending came as a surprise, and if I guessed at elements of what was going on, it was only because I’d been led there by the hand, inferring what was about to be revealed anyway, and I got distracted by the red herrings thrown in along the way.
The Word is Murder is a brilliantly plotted novel, and I highly recommend it to those looking for a crime novel with a bit of a twist.
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐