Detective stories are not usually my kind of book. However, I made an exception for Anthony Horowitz. I really liked his YA novels, particularly the Alex Rider spy thrillers and the Diamond Brothers series, so when I kept hearing great things about his new books for adults, I had to try one.
I really enjoyed The Word is Murder (first published 2017). I can’t fault it at all. The plot and pacing are excellent. There are a few gruesome details, as the focus of the story is a murder investigation, but they’re not over the top. Although I was looking forward to the end of the story because I wanted the plot resolved (and to find out if my hunches were correct), there was never a dull moment – the length of the novel is just right.
What I like most about this novel is that the narrator is Anthony Horowitz himself. The premise is that he is approached by Daniel Hawthorne, a former police detective, to write a true crime book about a current murder investigation. The story is about the uneasy collaboration between the two, just as much as the investigation itself. Hawthorne is portrayed as blunt, complex, unsympathetic and homophobic. Horowitz really doesn’t like working with him and is kind of his opposite but this conflict is interesting and amusing. I suppose that Hawthorne is a fictional character, but maybe he isn’t? I know that the whole story is fictional, but it’s presented as true, including details about the writing life of Horowitz and the people and places he knows. I think this is why the novel will stay in my head. I’ll certainly be reading the next novels in the series.