“The word is murder. That’s what matters.” And so begins another original take on a thriller from Mr. Horowitz.
First person meta-mystery where the author plays himself as Dr. Watson to a memorable, recently disgraced, consulting detective, Hawthorne. To avoid confusion, when referred to as Mr. Horowitz, I am speaking of the real author. I will use Anthony to denote the author character within the book.
Anthony is approached by an acquaintance, Hawthorne, to write a book about the case he is working on. Hawthorne is an outside consultant to the police whenever a particularly difficult case comes up. This case begins when Diana Cowper goes to an undertaker and plans her funeral down to the psalms and songs. Six hours later, Diana is dead, strangled in her living room. Hawthorne and his shadow, Anthony, inspect the murder scene, interview witnesses and decide on a lead suspect. However, Anthony quickly realizes that Hawthorne is an brilliant secretive unsympathetic homophobe. So Anthony decides the only way for him to continue writing the book is to investigate Hawthorne.
I love the concept of the Word is Murder but not so much its execution. Using Anthony as the narrator in a first-person mystery begs the question how can he be fooled by red herrings when his real self is writing them. It just feels like a manipulative con man is pulling the reader’s strings. However, the book’s conclusion is brilliant and well worth a read. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Harper, and Edelweiss for an advance copy.