Anthony Horowitz interacts with detective in tense murder plot
“The Word Is Murder”
by Anthony Horowitz
Anthony Horowitz is a prolific author. His non-formulaic work is refreshing. His books seem to come from different facets of his character and literary skills. He has an “Alex Rider” series for teens that is extremely popular and unrelated to “Moriarty,” “The House of Silk” or the “Magpie Murders.”
This book is based on an autobiographical story, and yet, he calls it a novel. It’s Anthony Horowitz’ name and perspective as a writer incorporated into this novel. Horowitz has utilized real-life detectives in the making of television series, to get the minutiae correct. He’s used detective Hawthorne on previous cases, and either Horowitz utilizes Hawthorne, or it’s the other way around: Hawthorne wants Horowitz to write a book about this particularly unusual case.
The plot meanders interestingly. A woman, Diana Cowper, goes purposefully to a mortuary and arranges her own funeral. Not so unusual until she is killed that same day. Suspects seem to be everywhere — plenty of people have reason to dislike the mother of the famous Damien Cowper, who’s also pretty dislikeable.
People included in the suspect list a myriad, including an entire family, whose life she had destroyed some ten years earlier; their nanny; producers of a play that had failed.
Horowitz’s interaction with Detective Hawthorne is tense and terse. The detective is unpleasant on many levels; his knowledge — or deduction — of aspects of Horowitz’s personal life, for example, is unsettling, versus Horowitz not being allowed to know anything about the other man. He makes a few assumptions — some right, and some dead wrong. Hawthorne is actually a pretty remarkable detective, and Horowitz gives him credit where credit’s due. The detective eliminates some people from suspicion, and yet, the suspense is well done.
Even though it’s a murder book, readers need a good sense of humor and affection for the macabre. There is a scene in which Horowitz gets together with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson for a luncheon meeting. Horowitz has been looking forward to this for months — an idea for a movie of “Tintin.” With Horowitz blustering in, the meeting turns out quite differently than he had anticipated.
This title and more are available at Off the Beaten Path bookstore and Bud Werner Memorial Library.
Katie Davidson is a bookseller at Off the Beaten Path.
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