Title: The Word is Murder
Author: Anthony Horowitz
Release Date: 24th August 2017
Reading Time: 8-10 hours
Diana Cowper starts her day by arranging her own funeral. Six hours later, she’s murdered in her own home.
Surly and enigmatic Private Detective Hawthorne is on a quest to expose the case’s secrets, while hiding his own.
And a reluctant Author finds himself drawn into an uncontrollable story by an unsolved mystery, and a trail of bloody clues.
Spread the word. The word is Murder.
Healthy widow Diana Cowper is strangled to death in her own home merely six hours after arranging her own funeral. Baffled by the circumstances, the police reluctantly call in ex-detective, now freelance consultant, Daniel Hawthorne to solve the case.
Hawthorne ropes in author Anthony Horowitz, who’s made a name for himself writing about teenage spies and Word War II detectives, to write up the investigation, and turn it into a bestselling true crime novel. But the mysteries surrounding Diana’s death go all the way back to a tragic accident that resulted in the death of an eight year old boy, and Horowitz believes that the answer to one mystery lies within another.
I got very excited when I discovered Anthony Horowitz was releasing a new book. I grew up reading his Alex Rider series, and I absolutely loved them, but I was yet to read any of his adult fiction, so I was curious to find out what that was like. In retrospect, The Word is Murder was probably the wrong book to start with.
The mystery itself is well crafted and intriguing. After years of working on TV series such as Foyle’s War and Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Horowitz knows how to put together a solid mystery. The clues are all there, yet they only become obvious in hindsight. The solution to the mystery surrounding Diana’s death is brilliantly simple, yet, difficult to arrive at on your own. The writing is also stellar, but after 40 odd novels, you wouldn’t expect anything less. As a crime mystery, The Word is Murder is a fairly good one, but it’s let down by a few other elements.
It’s quite obvious that the Hawthorne/Horowitz relationship in this novel is, let’s say, an homage to Holmes and Watson, but unlike the latter, the former just don’t have that same charismatic pull, and so it all falls somewhat flat. Hawthorne is pretty much a carbon copy of the famous Baker Street detective, down the the snap observational deductions and the excessive smoking, but all he ever comes across is as unlikable. On paper (haha), Sherlock Holmes sounds quite unlikable too, but unlike Hawthorne, his abrasiveness… Just works. And the fictional version of Horowitz is not much better. He comes across as a cultural snob, and spends a lot of the novel diverting our attention from the mystery at hand to ramble on about his rather dull adventures in novel writing whilst dropping some big names. There is some self deprecating humor here, which leads me to believe Horowitz was deliberately portraying himself this way so as to distract us. It worked-I was very distracted-but it was not a pleasant experience. I got bored very quickly of the detours into Foyle’s War, and Tintin, and meetings with Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg. It all just felt superfluous and tedious.
I did enjoy The Word is Murder, but going in with such high expectations left me disappointed. I’d recommend it to fans of his other adult novels, but not as an introduction to Horowitz and his work. Since he was such a big part of my childhood, I’m going to stick with Horowitz and try some of his other adult fiction. But first, I think I’ll finally finish the Alex Rider series…
TL,DR: A well written, solid mystery that is sightly hindered by it’s fake non-fiction format.
*I received this ARC free from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review*