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The Word Is Murder: The bestselling mystery from the author of Magpie Murders - you've never read a crime novel quite like this Paperback – August 24, 2017
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"Ingenious twist on the classic whodunnit" * The Guardian * "Splendidly entertaining, absorbing and difficult to put down. Hawthorne is an intriguing character" * Daily Express * "Horowitz is strong on plot ... and infectiously zestful" * Daily Telegraph * "A real page-turner. I loved it!" -- ALED JONES (ITV, Weekend) "Raises the game-playing to Olympic level." * Guardian Books of the Year *
About the Author
ANTHONY HOROWITZ is the author of the bestselling teen spy series, Alex Rider, and is also responsible for creating and writing some of the UK's most loved and successful TV series, including Midsomer Murders and Foyle's War. He has also written two highly acclaimed Sherlock Holmes novels, The House of Silk and Moriarty; a James Bond novel, Trigger Mortis; and his most recent stand-alone novel, Magpie Murders, was a Top Five Sunday Times bestseller. He is on the board of the Old Vic Theatre, and was awarded an OBE for his services to literature in January 2014. The Word is Murder is the first in a series of crime novels starring Detective Daniel Hawthorne.
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In this, another murder case, Horowitz is even more brazen by casting himself as himself, layering fictional characters and a storyline with the authentic Horowitz, in a sometimes gleefully tingling meta- scene. For example, the writer is in an actual meeting with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, and…well, I won’t reveal what happens, but it really blurs the lines between fact and fiction, that scene being the most arch of all the meta-scenes due to the billion-watt celebrities going eerily from foreground to background with a few strokes of a keyboard.
The story: It starts with a short narrative: a 60s-aged woman, Diana Cowper, walks into a funeral parlor to arrange her own funeral, and is murdered six hours later. This was more of a prologue, demonstrating the author’s draft of a story, and then the next chapter we get to the meat of the set-up, and how that funeral parlor scene came to be.
In London, Anthony Horowitz, busy with different writing projects and a screenplay, is contacted by a peculiar ex police force detective named Daniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne was once hired by Horowitz’s production team to be used as a consultant in his five-part miniseries, INJUSTICE, to help keep the script’s police procedures credible and methodical. He was brilliant with his advice, and apparently a crack investigator, but was fired by the Metropolitan police force prior to working with Horowitz on the series. Anthony never liked him—he found him morose, socially miscued, prickly, annoying, and intrusive, but he put up with him for his use on the series.
Horowitz is inwardly outraged and outwardly dismissive when Hawthorne calls him to offer him a 50-50 book deal to write about himself. Why would anyone want to read about Hawthorne? And how brazen for him to call Horowitz to write this? And 50-50??? Yet, when he finally does meet up with him and Hawthorne tells him about the Cowper case, Anthony is legitimately intrigued. The fact that she has a famous son, a stage and screen actor he’s familiar with, amps up the buzz.
Horowitz agrees to do it, i.e. to follow Hawthorne around (who has been curiously hired by the Met to consult, and seems to have primary privileges). The problem— to Anthony’s chagrin, Hawthorne is a cipher and refuses to answer any questions about himself. Anthony expresses to him that if he is going to write about him,
“I’d have to know where you live, whether you’re married or not, what you have for breakfast, what you do on your day off. That’s why people read murder stories.” Hawthorne’s response?
“I don’t agree. The word is murder. That’s what matters.”
As the case and story unfold, and the suspects pile up, it becomes just as thrilling to witness the testy relationship of Hawthorne and Horowitz as it is to watch how the investigation progresses. Moreover, the writer shares the writing process. Although the case is fiction (but treated as fact), you totally believe in it! Horowitz is a genius at including himself BUT getting out of his own way. Only an accomplished, meticulous writer is able to pull that off. You won’t be disappointed.
Basic premise: a woman walks into a funeral home to arrange her funeral details, and a few hours later she’s murdered in her own home. Coincidental? Hawthorne doesn’t believe in coincidences.
Fans of “Magpie Murders” will enjoy all the “real life” references to actors, directors, authors, works of literature, film, and TV series (many of Horowitz’s own writing). The book doesn’t at all feel like a “commercial” for Horowitz – though it did compel me to add the BBC series, “Injustice” to my Amazon Prime Watch List. Pretty much anything Horowitz writes appeals to me; his plots are well crafted, his characters are interesting and quirky (Hawthorne is a real piece of work!) and his “Brit Wit” is exceptionally appealing.