The Word is Murder

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In violation of my normal reading rules, I checked out Anthony Horowitz's second book in this series, The Sentence is Death, back in 2020. It was good! So when I noticed that he'd put a third book out in the series, Iā€¦ decided to go back and read this first one, from back in 2018. And it is also good.

It's very British, putting me in mind of Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie: an unlikely plot, a raft of suspects, red herrings galore. But the series gimmick is (surprisingly) effective: the narrator is named "Anthony Horowitz", writer and creator of TV shows, juvenile fantasy books, some Sherlock Holmes and James Bond novels. (He's prolific.) In other words, it's a deliberate blur between actual author Anthony and fictional narrator Anthony.

In this first book, Anthony meets ex-cop Hawthorne, an unpleasant but gifted investigator. They make an uneasy deal: Hawthorne investigates a murder, Anthony writes a book about it, they split the proceeds 50-50. Sort of a Watson/Holmes relationship.

And their first murder is a doozy: an aging wealthy widow visits an undertaker to make arrangements for her funeral. Then later that very day, she's strangled in her own home. Whodunit? Well, as noted, suspects are legion. (I usually despise this, because my aging brain can't keep all those characters straight. But Horowitz does an excellent job of introducing and distinguishing them relatively slowly.) The investigation proceeds with ongoing friction between Horowitz and Hawthorne, and eventually builds to a thrilling and surprising climax, and a satisfying ending.

Mrs. Salad and I are currently working through the episodes of Horowitz's Foyle's War on Britbox. Foyle is a police detective investigating English crimes during WWII. We like it a lot. The narrator-Anthony in this book recounts an anecdote about the actor playing Foyle, Michael Kitchen, involving his demand about Foyle's interrogation technique. Without spoilers, I read it to my wife, and it's something neither one of us had noticed, we're not sure it's true, but we'll be paying more attention as we watch our next episodes.