The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

wordisWhat an interesting and curious story this is.  I couldn’t help thinking when I first picked this up that Horowitz took a real risk here in writing a story in which he himself narrates but I’m pleased to say that the risk paid off and was in fact a clever ploy – I found myself becoming totally sucked in and really enjoying this.   A whodunnit with a difference.

At the start of the story we learn of Diana Cowper who within hours of visiting a funeral parlour to arrange her own funeral is found dead in her apartment.  The police commission one of their own PIs (Hawthorn) who specialises in unusual cases and he in turn approaches Horrowitz to write a story based simply on the facts of the case.  It’s a very unusual way of coming up with a story but I have to admit, after my initial reluctance I became completely absorbed in this untraditional style whodunit and I think that Horrowitz makes a great Watson to Hawthorn’s Holmes.

This is such an unusual way of telling the story because it mixes all sorts of truths in with the fiction which perhaps seems a puzzling way of writing a story and yet at the same time adds a level of realism that made me at times wonder if these events did actually take place.  I suppose if you think of the Holmes stories, they’re narrated by Watson who gives his version of accounts and this is a very similar way of telling the story.  We don’t always see what Hawthorn is up to and although there are clues throughout the book Horrowitz, like Watson, quite often misinterprets them – which again is such an unusual twist to the story because he’s the writer – so he knows what’s happening after all.  This is a total head warp to be honest but for me it worked.

I won’t go into the plot.  There are twists and turns aplenty.  Red herrings and clues dot the pages and undoubtedly some readers may pick things up quicker than I did as we follow the breadcrumb trail but I was caught up in the events and anxious to turn the pages.

In terms of the characters, well, Horrowitz plays himself, obviously!  It’s an interesting element to the book in which we watch his internal struggles to remain with a story that appears to be running out of his control, to deal with a character that he actually doesn’t really like as the story starts and the concerns he has about whether anybody would even pick up this book and read it – it all feels like extra layers that all add their own individual elements.  Then we have Hawthorn.  He’s this secretive, blunt, not always terribly nice character who seems to be riddled with prejudices that simmer just beneath the surface.  Did I like him?  Well, at the start he’s definitely a cold fish but he reluctantly becomes more human as the plot progresses and eventually gives up some of his secrets.  I love his clinical methods of deduction that are, again, Holmes-like.  He just comes out with random statements and seems to have this pleasure in listening to Horrowitz trying to figure out how he reached such conclusions.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this – I rather hope, in fact, that Horrowitz decides to continue with more stories from H&H  – I think they made a great team and I could imagine this being a series that wins a good following.  A modern day Holmes and Watson, an intriguing story and a tale of observation.  I would certainly read more.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy through Netgalley.  The above is my own opinion.

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10 Responses to “The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz”

  1. Tammy

    This format does sound unusual. I do like when authors try new things, glad you enjoyed it!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was really good actually. Not at all fantasy I hasten to add but I like the idea of a modern day style Holmes and Watson and thing there is definitely the possibility of more stories from these two – I hope so anyway.
      Lynn 😀

  2. sjhigbee

    I really like the sound of this one – thank you for a great review, Lynn. It is always fun to hear about something a bit different:)

    • @lynnsbooks

      This is definitely different and I really enjoyed it.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    The author writes himself into the novel? Well, I guess that’s pretty unusual, but fun if they can pull it of! This sounds like a case where it really works 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was a bit odd at first but I felt it really worked out well.

  4. Carmen

    I like the sound of this quirky novel.

  5. Danya @ Fine Print

    I’ve watched a few of the TV shows that Horowitz has written/created, but I have yet to read one of his novels. Clearly I need to remedy that, because this concept sounds very intriguing! I have been craving a good mystery lately.

    • @lynnsbooks

      This is a really unusual idea and it feels like it’s almost being set up as a Watson/Holmes type idea. I hope so.
      Lynn 😀

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